author of W\r Norris Changes Trains
Digitized by the Internet Archive
Christopher Isherwood was bom in 1904 at High Lane, Cheshire,
and educated at Repton School and Corpus Chrisu College,
His first novel. All the Conspirators, was published in 1928. In
the following year he went to Berlin and remained there,
supporting himself by teaching EngUsh, until Hitler came to
power in 1933. While Isherwood was in Germany his second
novel. The Memorial, was published, but it was not until 1935
that the first of the famous 'Berlin* books, Mr Norris Changes
Trains, appeared, followed in 1937 by the novella Sally Bowles
and in 1939 by Goodbye to Berlin. The late 1930s also saw the
fruitful collaboration between Isherwood and the poet W. H.
Auden which produced three plays (The Dog Beneath the Skin,
Ascent of F6 and On the Frontier) and a book based on their
trip to China during the Japanese invasion of the country.
Journey to a War, An autobiographical work. Lions and
Shadows, was published in 1938. Early in 1939 Isherwood
settled in the USA, where his growing interest in metaphysics
and eastern philosophy led to a close association with the Vedanta
Society of Los Angeles and to his cooperation on the translations
of several Hindu classics, including the Bhagavad-Gita, He
also worked as a scriptwriter in Hollywood and has taught at
various Califomian universities. His later work includes several
more novels, a book of travel and two further volumes of
The fascination of the subject-matter, the qualities of detached
humour, irony and unerring observation of human weakness
which distinguished the *BerHn' books were largely responsible
for establishing Isherwood's reputation with the general public.
The highly successful play / Am a Camera, based on Goodbye
to Berlin, was made into a film in 1955; the musical Cabaret
became an Oscar- winning film in 1972, starring Liza Minnelli
as Sally Bowles and Michael York as *Herr Issyvoo'.
An American citizen since 1946, Christopher Isherwood lives
in Santa Monica, California.
Also by Christopher Isherwood
All the Conspirators
Mr Norris Changes Trains
The World in the Evening
Down There on a Visit
A Single Man
A Meeting by the River
The Berlin of Sally Bowles
Plays (in collaboration with W. H. Auden)
The Dog Beneath the Skin
Ascent of F6
On the Frontier
Lions and Shadows
Kathleen and Frank
Christopher and His Kind
Journey to a War (in collaboration with W. H. Auden)
The Condor and the Cows
The Bhagavad-Gita (with Swami Prabhavananda)
Shankara's Jewel-Crest of Discrimination (with Swami
How to Know God; The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali (with
Baudelaire's Intimate Journals
Ramakrishna and his Disciples
Vedanta for Modern Man
Vedanta for the West
Goodbye to Berlin
Published in 1977 by Triad/Panther Books
Frogmore, St Albans AL2 22NF
ISBN o 586 04795 6
Triad Paperbacks Ltd is an imprint of
Chatto, Bodley Head & Jonathan Cape Ltd
and Granada Publishing Ltd
First published by The Hoganh Press 1939
Copyright © Christopher Isherwood 1939
Made and Printed in Great Britain by
Richard Clay (The Chaucer Press) Ltd
Set in Linotype Plantin.
This book is sold subject to the condition that it
shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent,
re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without
the publisher's prior consent in any form of
binding or cover other than that in which it is
published and without a similar condition
including this condition being imposed on the
John and Beatrix Lehmann
Goodbye to Berlin 9
A Berlin Diary (Autumn 1930) ii
Sally Bowles 30
On Ruegen Island (Summer 1931) 83
The Nowaks i€>6
The Landauers 142
A Berlin Diary (Winter 1932-3) 187
The Author's introductory note
to the first edition of
GOODBYE TO BERLIN
The six pieces contained in this volume form a roughly con-
tinuous narrative. They are the only existing fragments of
what was originally planned as a huge episodic novel of pre-
Hitler Berlin. I had intended to call it The Lost. My old title
has been changed, however; it is too grandiose for this short
loosely-connected sequence of diaries and sketches.
Readers of Mr Norris Changes Trains (published in the
United States as The Last of Mr Norris) may notice that
certain characters and situations in that novel overlap and
contradict what I have written here - Sally Bowles, for in-
stance, would have run into Mr Norris on Frl. Schroeder's
staircase; Christopher Isherwood would certainly have come
home one evening to find William Bradshaw asleep in his bed.
The explanation is simple: The adventures of Mr Norris
once formed part of The Lost itself.
Because I have given my own name to the *I' of this nar-
rative, readers are certainly not entitled to assume that its
p>ages are purely autobiographical, or that its characters are
libellously exact portraits of living persons. ^Christopher
Isherwood' is a convenient ventriloquist's dimmiy, nothing
The first Berlin Diary, The Nowaks and The Landauers,
have already appeared, in John Lehmann's New Writing,
Sally Bowles was originally published as a separate volume by
the Hogarth Press.
A BERLIN DIARY
From my window, the deep solemn massive street. Cellar-
shops where the lamps burn all day, under the shadow of top-
heavy balconied facades, dirty plaster frontages embossed
with scrollwork and heraldic devices. The whole district is
like this: street leading into street of houses like shabby
monumental safes crammed with the tarnished valuables and
second-hand furniture of a bankrupt middle class.
I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording,
not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window oppo-
site and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day,
all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.
At eight o'clock in the evening the house-doors v/ill be
locked. The children are having supper. The shops are shut.
The electric-sign is switched on over the night-bell of the
little hotel on the corner, where you can hire a room by the
hour. And soon the whistling will begin. Young men are call-
ing their girls. Standing down there in the cold, they whistle
up at the lighted windows of warm rooms where the beds are
already turned down for the night. They want to be let in.
Their signals echo down the deep hollow street, lascivious
and private and sad. Because of the whistling, I do not care to
stay here in the evenings. It reminds me that I am in a foreign
city, alone, far from home. Sometimes I determine not to
listen to it, pick up a book, try to read. But soon a call is sure
to sound, so piercing, so insistent, so despairingly human, that
at last I have to get up and peep through the slats of the
Venetian blind to make sure that it is not - as I know very
well it could not possibly be - for me.
The extraordinary smell in this room when the stove is
lighted and the window shut; not altogether unpleasant, a
mixture of incense and stale buns. The tall tiled stove, gor-
12 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
geously coloured, like an altar. The washstand like a Gothic
shrine. The cupboard also is Gothic, with carved cathedral
windows : Bismarck faces the King of Prussia in stained glass.
My best chair would do for a bishop's throne. In the comer,
three sham mediaeval halberds (from a theatrical touring com-
pany?) are fastened together to form a hatstand. Frl.
Schroeder unscrews the heads of the halberds and polishes
them from time to time. They are heavy and sharp enough to
Everything in the room is like that: unnecessarily solid,
abnormally heavy and dangerously sharp. Here, at the writing-
table, I am confronted by a phalanx of metal objects - a pair
of candlesticks shaped like entwined serpents, an ashtray from
which emerges the head of a crocodile, a paper-knife copied
from a Florentine dagger, a brass dolphin holding on the end
of its tail a small broken clock. What becomes of such things?
How could they ever be destroyed? They will probably re-
main intact for thousands of years : people will treasure them
in museums. Or perhaps they will merely be melted dov/n for
munitions in a war. Every morning, Frl. Schroeder arranges
them very carefully in certain unvarying positions : there they
stand, like an uncompromising statement of her views on
Capital and Society, Religion and Sex.
All day long she goes padding about the large dingy flat.
Shapeless but alert, she waddles from room to room, in car-
pet slippers and a flowered dressing-gown pinned ingeniously
together, so that not an inch of petticoat or bodice is to be
seen, flicking with her duster, peeping, spying, poking her
short pointed nose into the cupboards and luggage of her
lodgers. She has dark, bright, inquisitive eyes and pretty
waved brown hair of which she is proud. She must be about
fifty-five years old.
Long ago, before the War and the Inflation, she used to be
comparatively well off. She went to the Baltic for her summer
holidays and kept a maid to do the housework. For the last
thirty years she has lived here and taken in lodgers. She
started doing it because she liked to have company.
* "Lina," my friends used to say to me, **however can you?
A BERLIN DIARY 13
How can you bear to have strange people living in your
rooms and spoiling your furniture, especially when you've got
the money to be independent?" And I*d always give them the
same answer. "My lodgers aren't lodgers," I used to say.
"They're my guests."
Tou see, Herr Issyvoo, in those days I could afford to be
very particular about the sort of people who came to live here.
I could pick and choose. I only took them really well con-
nected and well educated - proper gentlefolk (lie yourself,
Herr Issyvoo). I had a Freiherr once, and a Rittmeister and a
Professor. They often gave me presents - a bottle of cognac or
a box of chocolates or some flowers. And when one of them
went away for his holidays he'd always send me a card —
from London, it might be, or Paris, or Baden-Baden. Ever
such pretty cards I used to get . . .'
And now Frl. Schroeder has not even got a room of her
own. She has to sleep in the living-room, behind a screen, on a
small sofa with broken springs. As in so many of the older
Berlin flats, our living-room conneas the front part of thef
house with the back. The lodgers who live on the front
have to pass through the living-room on their way to the bath-
room, so that Frl. Schroeder is often disturbed during the
night. *But I drop off again at once. It doesn't worry me. I'm
much too tired.' She has to do all the housework herself and
it takes up most of her day. *Twenty years ago, if anybody had
told me to scrub my own floors, I'd have slapped his face for
him. But you get used to it. You can get used to anything.
Why, I remember the time when I'd have sooner cut off my
right hand than empty this chamber . . . And now,' says Frl.
Schroeder, suiting the action to the word, *My goodness ! It's
no more to me than pouring out a cup of tea ! '
She is fond of pointing out to me the various marks and
stains left by lodgers who have inhabited this room :
"Yes, Herr Issyvoo, I've got something to remember each
of them by . . . Look there, on the rug - I've sent it to the
cleaners I don't know how often but nothing will get it out -
that's where Herr Noeske was sick after his birthday party.
14 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
What in the world can he have been eating, to make a mess
like that? He'd come to Berlin to study, you know. His parents
lived in Brandenburg - a first-class family; oh, I assure you!
They had pots of money ! His Herr Papa was a surgeon, and
of course he wanted his boy to follow in his footsteps ...
What a charming young man! "Herr Noeske," I used to say
to him, "excuse me, but you must really work harder - you
with all your brains ! Think of your Herr Papa and your Frau
Mama; it isn't fair to them to waste their good money like that.
Why, if you were to drop it in the Spree it would be better.
At least it would make a splash ! " I was Hke a mother to him.
And always, when he'd got himself into some scrape - he was
terribly thoughtless - he'd come straight to me: "Schroe-
derschen," he used to say, "Please don't be angry with me . . .
We were playing cards last night and I lost the whole of this
month's allowance. I daren't tell Father . . ." And then he'd
look at me with those great big eyes of his. I knew exactly
what he was after, the scamp I But I hadn't the heart to refuse.
So I'd sit down and write a letter to his Frau Mama and beg
her to forgive him just that once and send some more money.
And she always would ... Of course, as a woman, I knew
how to appeal to a mother's feeHngs, although I've never had
any children of my own . . . What are you smiling at, Herr
Issyvoo? Well, well I Mistakes will happen, you know I "
*And that's where the Herr Rittmeister always upset his
coffee over the wall-paper. He used to sit there on the couch
with his fiancee. "Herr Rittmeister,' I used to say to him,
"do please drink your coffee at the table. If you'll excuse my
saying so, there's plenty of time for the other thing after-
wards . . ." But no, he always would sit on the couch. And
then, sure enough, when he began to get a bit excited in his
feelings, over went the coffee-cups . . . Such a handsome
gentleman! His Frau Mama and his sister came to visit us
sometimes. They liked coming up to Berlin. "Fraulein Schroe-
der," they used to tell me, "you don't know how lucky you are
to be living here, right in the middle of things. We're only
country cousins - we envy you ! And now tell us aU the latest
Court scandals ! " Of course, they were only joking. They had
A BERLIN DIARY 1 5
the sweetest little house, not far from Halberstadt, in the
Harz. They used to show me pictures of it. A perfect dream ! '
*You see those ink-stains on the carpet? That's where Herr
Professor Koch used to shake his fountain-pen. I told him of
it a hundred times. In the end, I even laid sheets of blotting-
paper on the floor around his chair. He was so absent-minded
. . . Such a dear old gentleman ! And so simple. I was very
fond of him. If I mended a shirt for him or darned his socks,
he'd thank me with the tears in his eyes. He Hked a bit of fun,
too. Sometimes, when he heard me coming, he'd turn out the
light and hide behide the door; and then he'd roar like a lion
to frighten me. Just like a child . . .'
Frl. Schroeder can go on like this, without repeating herself,
by the hour. When I have been listening to her for some time,
I find myself relapsing into a curious trance-like state of
depression. I begin to feel profoundly unhappy. Where are
all those lodgers now? Where, in another ten years, shall I
be, myself? Certainly not here. How many seas and frontiers
shall I have to travel, on foot, on horseback, by car, push-
bike, aeroplane, steamer, train, lift, moving-staircase and
tram? How much money shall I need for that enormous
journey? How much food must I gradually, wearily consume
on my way? How many pairs of shoes shall I wear out? How
many thousands of cigarettes shall I smoke? How many cups
of tea shall I drink and how many glasses of beer? What an
awful tasteless prospect ! And yet to have to die ... A sud-
den vague pang of apprehension grips my bowels and I have
to excuse myself in order to go to the lavatory.
Hearing that I was once a medical student, she confides to
me that she is very unhappy because of the size of her bosom.
She suffers from palpitations and is sure that these must be
caused by the strain on her heart. She wonders if she should
have an operation. Some of her acquaintances advise her to,
others are against it:
*Oh dear, it's such a weight to have to carry about with
you ! And just think - Herr Issyvoo : I used to be as slim as
you are ! '
1 6 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
*I suppose you had a great many admirers, Frl. Schroeder?'
Yes, she has had dozens. But only one Friend He was
married man, living apart from his wife, who would not divorce
*We were together eleven years. Then he died of pneu-
monia. Sometimes I wake up in the night when it's cold and
wish he was there. You never seem to get really warm, sleep-
There are four other lodgers in this flat. Next door to me, in
the big front-room, is Frl. Kost. In the room opposite, over-
looking the courtyard, is Frl. Mayr. At the back, beyond the
living-room, is Bobby. And behind Bobby's room, over the
bathroom, at the top of a ladder, is a tiny attic which Frl.
Schroeder refers to, for some occult reason, as *The Swedish
Pavilion.' This she lets, at twenty marks a month, to a com-
mercial traveller who is out all day and most of die night. I
occasionally come upon him on Sunday mornings, in the
kitchen, shuffling about in his vest and trousers, apologetically
hunting for a box of matches.
Bobby is a mixer at a west-end bar called the Troika. I
don't know his real name. He has adopted this one because
English Christian names are fashionable just now in the
Berlin demi-monde. He is a pale worried-looking smartiy
dressed young man with thin sleek black hair. During the
early afternoon, just after he has got out of bed, he walks
about the flat in shirt-sleeves, wearing a hairnet.
Frl. Schroeder and Bobby are on intimate terms. He tickles
her and slaps her bottom; she hits him over the head with a
frying-pan or a mop. The first time I surprised them scuffling
like this, they v/ere both rather embarrassed. Now they take
my presence as a matter of course. ^
Frl. Kost is a blonde florid girl with large silly blue eyes.
When we meet, coming to and from the bathroom in our
dressing-gowns, she modestly avoids my glance. She is plump
but has a good figure.
One day I asked Frl. Schroeder straight out: What was
Frl. Kost's profession?
^Profession? Ha, ha, that's good I That's just the word for it !
A BERLIN DIARY 1 7
Oh, yes, she's got a fine profession. Like this — '
And with the air of doing something extremely comic, she
began waddling across the kitchen like a duck, mincingly hold-
ing a duster between her finger and thumb. Just by the door,
she twirled triumphantly round, flourishing the duster as
though it were a silk handkerchief, and kissed her hand to me
*Ja, ja, Herr Issyvoo ! That's how they do it'
i don't quite understand, Frl. Schroeder. Do you mean
that she's a tight-rope walker?'
*He, he, he! Very good indeed, Herr Issyvoo! Yes, that's
right ! That's it ! She walks along the line for her living. That
just describes her ! '
One evening, soon after this, I met Frl. Kost on the stairs,
with a Japanese. Frl. Schroeder explained to me later that he
is one of Frl. Kost's best customers. She asked Frl. Kost how
they spent the time together when not actually in bed, for the
Japanese can speak hardly any German.
*0h, well,' said Frl. Kost, Ve play the gramophone to-
gether, you know, and eat chocolates, and then we laugh a
lot. He's very fond of laughing . . .'
Frl. Schroeder really quite likes Frl. Kost and certainly
hasn't any moral objections to her trade : nevertheless, when
she is angry because Frl. Kost has broken the spout of the tea-
pot or omitted to make crosses for her telephone-calls on the
slate in the living-room, then invariably she exclaims :
*But after all, what else can you expect from a woman of
that sort, a common prostitute! Why, Herr Issyvoo, do you
know what she used to be? A servant girl ! And then she got
to be on intimate terms with her employer and one fine day,
of course, she found herself in certain circumstances . . . And
when that little difficulty was removed, she had to go trot-
trot . . .'
Frl. Mayr is a music-hall jodlerin - one of the best, so Frl.
Schroeder reverently assures me, in the whole of Germany.
Frl. Schroeder doesn't altogether like Frl. Mayr, but she
stands in great awe of her; as well she may. Frl. Mayer has a
bull-dog jaw, enormous arms and coarse string-coloured hair.
1 8 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
She speaks a Bavarian dialect with peculiarly aggressive
emphasis. When at home, she sits up like a war-horse at the
living-room table, helping Frl. Schroeder to lay cards. They
are both adept fortune-tellers and neither would dream of
beginning the day without consulting the omens. The chief
thing they both want to know at present is : when will Frl.
Mayr get another engagement? This question interests Frl.
Schroeder quite as much as Frl. Mayr, because Frl. Mayr is
behind-hand with the rent.
At the corner of the Motzstrasse, when the weather is fine,
there stands a shabby pop-eyed man beside a portable canvas
booth. On the sides of the booth are pinned astrological
diagrams and autographed letters of recommendation from
satisfied clients. Frl. Schroeder goes to consult him when-
ever she can afford the mark for his fee. In fact, he plays a
most important part in her life. Her behaviour towards him
is a mixture of cajolery and threats. If the good things he
promises her come true she will kiss him, she says, invite him
to dinner, buy him a gold watch : if they don't, she will throt-
tle him, box his ears, report him to the police. Among other
prophecies, the astrologer has told her that she will win some
money in the Prussian State Lottery. So far, she has had no
luck. But she is always discussing what she will do with her
winnings. We are all to have presents, of course. I am to get
a hat, because Frl. Schroeder thinks it very improper that a
gentleman of my education should go about without one.
When not engaged in laying cards, Frl. Mayr drinks tea
and lectures Frl. Schroeder on her past theatrical triumphs :
*And the Manager said to me : "Fritzi, Heaven must have
sent you here! My leading lady's fallen ill. You're to leave
for Copenhagen to-night." And what's more, he wouldn't take
no for an answer. "Fritzi," he said (he always called me that),
"Fritzi, you aren't going to let an old friend down?" And so
I went . . .' Frl. Mayr sips her tea reminiscently : *A charming
man. And so well-bred.' She smiles: *Familiar ... but he
always knew how to behave himself.'
Frl. Schroeder nods eagerly, drinking in every word, revel-
ling in it :
A BERLIN DIARY 1 9
*I suppose some of those managers must be cheeky devils?
(Have some more sausage, Frl. Mayr?) '
* (Thank you, Frl. Schroeder; just a little morsel.) Yes, some
of them . . . you wouldn't believe ! But I could always take
care of myself. Even when I was quite a slip of a girl . . .'
The muscles of Frl. Mayr's nude fleshy arms ripple un-
appetisingly. She sticks out her chin :
Tm a Bavarian, and a Bavarian never forgets an injury.'
Coming into the living-room yesterday evening, I found
Frl. Schroeder and Frl. Mayr lying flat on their stomachs
with ears pressed to the carpet. At intervals, they exchanged
grins of delight or joyfully pinched each other, with simultan-
eous exclamations of Ssh I
*Hark!' whispered Frl. Schroeder, *He's smashing all the
furniture ! '
*He's beating her black and blue ! ' exclaimed Frl. Mayr, in
*Bang! Just listen to that!'
Frl. Schroeder was quite beside herself. When I asked what
was the matter, she clambered to her feet, waddled forward
and, taking me round the waist, danced a little waltz with me :
*Herr Issyvoo! Herr Issyvoo! Herr Issyvoo!" until she was
*But whatever has happened?' I asked.
'Ssh!' commanded Frl. Mayr from the floor. *Ssh! They've
In the flat directly beneath ours lives a certain Frau Glan-
terneck. She is a Galician Jewess, in itself a reason why Frl.
Mayr should be her enemy: for Frl. Mayr, needless to say,
is an ardent Nazi. And quite apart from this, it seems that
Frau Glanterneck and Frl. Mayr once had words on the stairs
about Frl. Mayr's yodelling. Frau Glanterneck, perhaps be-
cause she is a non-Aryan, said that she preferred the noises
made by cats. Thereby, she insulted not merely Frl. Mayr, but
all Bavarian, all German women: and it was Frl. Mayr's
20 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
pleasant duty to avenge them.
About a fortnight ago, it became known among the neigh-
bours that Frau Glanterneck, who is sixty years old and as
ugly as a witch, had been advertising in the newspaper for a
husband. What was more, an applicant had already appeared :
a widowed butcher from Halle. He had seen Frau Glanter-
neck and was nevertheless prepared to marry her. Here was
Frl. Mayr's chance. By roundabout inquiries, she discovered
the butcher's name and address and wrote him an anonymous
letter. Was he aware that Frau Glanterneck had (a) bugs in
her flat, (b) been arrested for fraud and released on the
ground that she was insane, (c) leased out her own bedroom
for immoral purposes, and (d) slept in the bed afterwards
without changing the sheets? And now the butcher had arrived
to confront Frau Glanterneck with the letter. One could hear
both of them quite distinctly: the growling of the enraged
Prussian and the shrill screaming of the Jewess. Now and then
came the thud of a fist against wood and, occasionally, the
crash of glass. The row lasted over an hour.
This morning we hear that the neighbours have complained
to the portress of the disturbance and that Frau Glanterneck
is to be seen with a black eye. The marriage is ofif.
The inhabitants of this street know me by sight already. At
the grocer's, people no longer turn their heads on hearing my
English accent as I order a pound of butter. At the street
corner, after dark, the three whores no longer whisper
throatily : *Komm, Siisser ! ' as I pass.
The three whores are all plainly over fifty years old. They
do not attempt to conceal their age. They are not noticeably
rouged or pov/dered. They wear baggy old fur coats and
longish skirts and matronly hats. I happened to mention them
to Bobby and he explained to me that there is a recognized
demand for the conifortable type of woman. Many middle-
aged men prefer them to girls. They even attract boys in their
'teens. A boy, explained Bobby, feels shy with a girl of his
own age but not with a woman old enough to be his mother.
Like most barmen, Bobby is a great expert on sexual questions.
A BERLIN DIARY 21
The Other evening, I went to call on him during business
It was still very early, about nine o'clock, when I arrived at
the Troika. The place was much larger and grander than I had
expected. A commissionaire braided like an archduke re-
garded my hatless head with suspicion until I spoke to him in
English. A smart cloak-room girl insisted on taking my over-
coat, which hides the worst stains on my baggy flannel trousers.
A page-boy, seated on the counter, didn't rise to open the
inner door. Bobby, to my relief, was at his place behind a
blue and silver bar. I made towards him as towards an old
friend. He greeted me most amiably:
*Good evening, Mr Isherwood. Very glad to see you here.'
I ordered a beer and settled myself on a stool in the corner.
With my back to the wall, I could survey the whole room.
*How's business?' I asked.
Bobby's care-worn, powdered, night-dweller's face became
grave. He incUned his head towards me, over the bar, with
confidential flattering seriousness :
*Not much good, Mr Isherwood. The kind of public we
have nowadays . . . you wouldn't believe it ! Why, a year ago,
we'd have turned them away at the door. They order a beer
and think they've got the right to sit here the whole evening.'
Bobby spoke with extreme bitterness. I began to feel un-
*What'll you drink?' I asked, guiltily gulping down my
beer : and added, lest there should be any misunderstanding :
*rd like a whisky and soda.'
Bobby said he'd have one too.
The room was nearly empty. I looked the few guests over,
trying to see them through Bobby's disillusioned eyes. There
were three attractive, well-dressed girls sitting at the bar : the
one nearest to me was particularly elegant, she had quite a
cosmopolitan air. But during a lull in the conversation, I
caught fragments of her talk with the other barman. She
spoke broad Berlin dialect. She was tired and bored; her
mouth dropped. A young man approached her and joined in
the discussion; a handsome broad-shouldered boy in a well-
22 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
cut dinner-jacket, who might well have been an English
public-school prefect on holiday.
^Nee, necy I heard him say. *B^ mir nichtr He grinned
and made a curt, brutal gesture of the streets.
Over in the corner sat a page-boy, talking to the little old
lavatory attendant in his white jacket. The boy said something,
laughed and broke off suddenly into a huge yawn. The three
musicians on their platform were chatting, evidently unwilling
to begin until they had an audience worth playing to. At
one of the tables, I thought I saw a genuine guest, a stout
man with a moustache. After a moment, however, I caught
his eye, he made me a little bow and I knew that he must be
The door opened. Two men and two women came in. The
women were elderly, had thick legs, cropped hair and costly
evening-gowns. The men were lethargic, pale, probably
Dutch. Here, unmistakably, was Money. In an instant, the
Troika was transformed. The manager, the cigarette boy and
the lavatory attendant rose simultaneously to their feet. The
lavatory attendant disappeared. The manager said something
in a furious undertone to the cigarette-boy, who also disap-
peared. He then advanced, bowing and smiling, to the guests'
table and shook hands with the two men. The cigarette-boy
reappeared with his tray, followed by a waiter who hurried
foward with the wine-list. Meanwhile, the three-man orchestra
struck up briskly. The girls at the bar turned on their stools,
smiling a not-too-direct invitation. The gigolos advanced to
them as if to complete strangers, bowed formally and asked,
in cultured tones, for the pleasure of a dance. The page-boy,
spruce, discreetly grinning, swaying from the waist like a
flower, crossed the room with his tray of cigarettes : 'ZigarrenI
ZigarettenV His voice was mocking, clear-pitched like an
actor's. And in the same tone, yet more loudly, mockingly,
joyfully, so that we could all hear, the waiter ordered from
Bobby : *Heidsick Monopol I '
With absurd, solicitous gravity, the dancers performed their
intricate evolutions, showing in their every movement a con-
sciousness of the part they were playing. And the saxophonist,
A BERLIN DIARY 23
letting his instrument swing loose from the ribbon around his
neck, advanced to the edge of the platform with his little
Sie werden lachen,
Meine eigene Frau . . .
He sang with a knowing leer, including us all in the
conspiracy, charging his voice with innuendo, rolling his eyes
in an epileptic pantomime of extreme joy. Bobby, suave,
sleek, five years younger, handled the bottle. And meanwhile
the two flaccid gentlemen chatted to each other, probably
about business, without a glance at the night-life they had
called into being; while their women sat silent, looking neg-
lected, puzzled, uncomfortable and very bored.
Frl. Hippi Bernstein, my first pupil, lives in the Griine-
wald, in a house built almost entirely of glass. Most of the
richest Berlin families inhabit the Griinewald. It is difl&cult
to understand why. Their villas, in all known styles of ex-
pensive ugliness, ranging from the eccentric-rococo folly to
the cubist flat-roofed steel-and-glass box, are crowded to-
gether in this dank, dreary pinewood. Few of them can afford
large gardens, for the ground is fabulously dear: their only
view is of their neighbour's backyard, each one protected by a
wire fence and a savage dog. Terror of burglary and revolution
has reduced these miserable people to a state of siege. They
have neither privacy nor sunshine. The district is really a
When I rang the bell at the garden gate, a young footman
came out with a key from the house, followed by a large
*He won't bite you while I'm here,' the footman reassured
The hall of the Bernstein's house has metal-studded doors
and a steamer clock fasted to the wall with bolt-heads. There
24 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
are modernist lamps, designed to look like pressure-gauges,
thermometers and switchboard dials. But the furniture doesn't
match the house and its fittings. The place is Hke a power-
station which the engineers have tried to make comfortable
with chairs and tables from an old-fashioned, highly respect-
able boarding-house. On the austere metal walls, hang highly
varnished nineteenth-century landscapes in massive gold
frames. Herr Bernstein probably ordered the villa from a
popular avant-garde architect in a moment of recklessness;
was horrified at the result and tried to cover it up as much as
possible with the family belongings.
Frl. Ejppi is a fat pretty girl, about nineteen years old, with
glossy chestnut hair, good teeth and big cow-eyes. She has
a lazy, jolly, self-indulgent laugh and a well-formed bust. She
speaks schoolgirl English with a slight American accent, quite
nicely, to her own complete satisfaction. She has clearly no
intention of doing any work. When I tried weakly to suggest a
plan for our lessons, she kept interrupting to offer me choco-
lates, coffee, cigarettes : 'Excuse me a minute, there isn't some
fruit,' she smiled, picking up the receiver of the house-tele-
phone : *Anna, please bring some oranges.'
When the maid arrived with the oranges, I was forced,
despite my protests, to make a regular meal, with a plate, knife
and fork. This destroyed the last pretence of the teacher-
pupil relationship. I felt like a poUceman being given a meal
in the kitchen by an attractive cook. Frl. Hippi sat watching
me eat, with her good-natured, lazy smile:
*Tell me, please, why you come to Germany?'
She is inquisitive about me, but only like a cow idly poking
with its head between the bars of a gate. She doesn't par-
ticularly want the gate to open. I said that I found Germany
*The political and economic situation,' I improvised auth-
oritatively, in my schoolmaster voice, *is more interesting in
Germany than in any other European country.'
TExcept Russia, of course,' I added experimentally.
But Frl. Hippi didn't react. She just blandly smiled :
A BERLIN DIARY 2$
1 think it shall be dull for you here? You do not have
many friends in Berlin, no?'
*No. Not many.'
This seemed to please and amuse her :
*You don't know some nice girls?'
Here the buzzer of the house-telephone sounded. Lazily
smiling, she picked up the receiver, but appeared not to listen
to the tinny voice which issued from it. I could hear quite
distinctly the real voice of Frau Bernstein, Hippi's mother,
speaking from the next room.
*Have you left your red book in here?' repeated Frl. Hippi
mockingly and smiling at me as though this were a joke which
I must share: *No, I don't see it. It must be in the study.
Ring up Daddy. Yes, he's working there.' In dumb show, she
offered me another orange. I shook my head politely. We
both smiled: *Mummy, what have we got for lunch to-day?
Yes? Really? Splendid!'
*Do you not know no nice girls?'
She hung up the receiver and returned to her crossexamina-
'Any nice girls ...'I corrected evasively. But Frl. Hippi
merely smiled, waiting for the answer to her question.
Tes. One,' I had at length to add, thinking of Frl. Kost.
*Only one?' She raised her eyebrows in comic surprise.
*And tell me, please, do you find German girls different than
I blushed. 'Do you find German girls . . .' I began to correct
her and stopped, realizing just in time that I wasn't absolutely
sure whether one says different from or different to.
*Do you find German girls different than English girls?'
she repeated, with smiling persistence.
I blushed deeper than ever. Tes. Very different,' I said
*How are they different?'
Mercifully the telephone buzzed again. This was somebody
from the kitchen, to say that lunch would be an hour earlier
than usual. Herr Bernstein was going to the city that afternoon.
*I am so sorry,' said Frl. Hippi, rising, *but for to-day we
26 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
must finish. And we shall see us again on Friday? Then good-
bye, Mr Isherwood. And I thank you very much.'
She fished in her bag and handed me an envelope which
I stuck awkwardly into my pocket and tore open only when I
was out of sight of the Bernsteins' house. It contained a five-
mark piece. I threw it into the air, missed it, found it after
five minutes' hunt, buried in sand, and ran all the way to the
tram-stop, singing and kicking stones about the road. I felt
extraordinarily guilty and elated, as though I'd successfully
committed a small theft.
It is a mere waste of time even pretending to teach Frl.
Hippi anything. If she doesn't know a word, she says it in
German. If I correct her, she repeats it in German. I am glad,
of course, that she's so lazy and only afraid that Frau Bern-
stein may discover how little progress her daughter is making.
But this is very unlikely. Most rich people, once they have
decided to trust you at all, can be imposed upon to almost
any extent. The only real problem for the private tutor is to
get inside the front door.
As for Hippi, she seems to enjoy my visits. From some-
thing she said the other day, I gather she boasts to her school
friends that she has got a genuine EngHsh teacher. We under-
stand each other very well. I am bribed with fruit not to be
tiresome about the English language: she, for her part, tells
her parents that I am the best teacher she ever had. We gossip
in German about the things which interest her. And every
three or four minutes, we are interrupted while she plays her
part in the family game of exchanging entirely unimportant
messages over the house-telephone.
Hippi never worries about the future. Like everyone else
in Berlin, she refers continually to the political situation, but
only briefly, with a conventional melancholy, as when one
speaks of religion. It is quite unreal to her. She means to go
to the university, travel about, have a jolly good time and
eventually, of course, marry. She already has a great many
boy friends. We spend a lot of time talking about them. One
has a wonderful car. Another has an aeroplane. Another has
A BERLIN DIARY TTJ
fought seven duels. Another has discovered a knack of putting
out street-lamps by giving them a smart kick in a certain spot.
One night, on the way back from a dance, Hippi and he put
out all the street-lamps in the neighbourhood.
To-day, lunch was early at the Bernsteins'; so I was invited
to it, instead of giving my *lesson.' The whole family was
present: Frau Bernstein, stout and placid; Herr Bernstein,
small and shaky and sly. There was also a younger sister, a
schoolgirl of twelve, very fat. She ate and ate, quite unmoved
by Hippi's jokes and warnings that she'd burst. They all seem
very fond of each other, in their cosy, stuffy way. There was
a little domestic argument, because Herr Bernstein didn't
want his wife to go shopping in the car that afternoon. During
the last few days, there has been a lot of Nazi rioting in the
*You can go in the tram,' said Herr Bernstein. *I will not
have them throwing stones at my beautiful car.'
*And jsuppose they throw stones at me?' asked Frau Bern-
*Ach, what does that matter? If they throw stones at you,
I will buy you a sticking-plaster for your head. It will cost me
only five groschen. But if they throw stones at my car, it will
cost me perhaps five hundred marks.'
And so the matter was settled. Herr Bernstein then turned
his attention to me :
Tou can't complain that we treat you badly here, young
man, eh? Not only do we give you a nice dinner, but we pay
for you eating it ! '
I saw from Hippi's expression that this was going a bit far,
even for the Bernstein sense of humour; so I laughed and
*Will you pay me a mark extra for every helping I eat?'
This amused Herr Bernstein very much; but he was care-
ful to show that he knew I hadn't meant it seriously.
During the last week, our household has been plunged into
a terrific row.
28 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
It began when Frl. Kost came to Frl. Schroeder and an-
nounced that fifty marks had been stolen from her room. She
was very much upset; especially, she explained, as this was
the money she'd put aside towards the rent and the telephone
bill. The fifty-mark note had been lying in the drawer of the
cupboard, just inside the door of Frl. Kost's room.
Frl. Schroeder's immediate suggestion was, not unnaturally,
that the money had been stolen by one of Frl. Kost's custo-
mers. Frl. Kost said that this was quite impossible, as none of
them had visited her during the last three days. Moreover, she
added, her friends were all absolutely above suspicion. They
were well-to-do gentlemen, to whom a miserable fifty-mark
note was a mere bagatelle. This annoyed Frl. Schroeder very
much indeed :
*I suppose she's trying to make out that one of us did it ! Of
all the cheek! Why, Herr Issyvoo, will you believe me, I
could have chopped her into Httle pieces ! '
*Yes, Frl. Schroeder. I'm sure you could.'
Frl. Schroeder then developed the theory that the money
hadn't been stolen at all and that this was a trick of Frl. Kost's
to avoid paying the rent. She hinted so much to Frl. Kost, who
was furious. Frl. Kost said that, in any case, she'd raise the
money in a few days : which she already has. She also gave
notice to leave her room at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, I have discovered, quite by accident, that Frl.
Kost has been having an affair with Bobby. As I came in, one
evening, I happened to notice that there was no light in Frl.
Kost's room. You can always see this, because there is a frosted
glass pane in her door to light the hall of the flat. Later, as I
lay in bed reading, I heard Frl. Kost's door open and Bobby's
voice, laughing and whispering. After much creaking of boards
and muffled laughter, Bobby tiptoed out of the flat, shutting
the door as quietly as possible behind him. A moment later, he
re-entered with a great deal of noise and went straight through
into the living-room, where I heard him wishing Frl. Schroe-
If Frl. Schroeder doesn't actually know of this, she at least
suspects it. This explains her fury against Frl. Kost : for the
A BERLIN DIARY 29
truth is, she is terribly jealous. The most grotesque and embar-
rassing incidents have been taking place. One morning, when
I wanted to visit the bathroom, Frl. Kost was using it already.
Frl. Schroeder rushed to the door before I could stop her and
ordered Frl. Kost to come out at once : and when Frl. Kost
naturally didn't obey, Frl. Schroeder began, despite my pro-
tests, hammering on the door with her fists. *Come out of my
bathroom ! ' she screamed. *Come out this minute, or I'll call the
police to fetch you out ! '
After this she burst into tears. The crying brought on pal-
pitations. Bobby had to carry her to the sofa, gasping and
sobbing. While we were all standing round, rather helpless,
Frl. Mayr appeared in the doorway with a face like a hangman
and said, in a terrible voice, to Frl. Kost: *Think yourself
lucky, my girl, if you haven't murdered her ! ' She then took
complete charge of the situation, ordered us all out of the
room and sent me down to the grocer's for a bottle of Baldrian
Drops. When I returned, she was seated beside the sofa,
stroking Frl. Schroeder's hand and murmuring, in her most
tragic tones : *Lina, my poor little child . . . what have they
done to you?'
One afternoon, early in October, I was invited to black coffee
at Fritz Wendel's flat. Fritz always invited you to *Black
coffee,' with emphasis on the black. He was very proud of
his coffee. People used to say that it was the strongest in
Fritz himself was dressed in his usual coffee-party costume
- a very thick white yachting sweater and very light blue
flannel trousers. He greeted me with his fuU-lipped, luscious
*Hullo, Fritz. How are you?'
Tine.' He bent over the coffee-machine, his sleek black
hair unplastering itself from his scalp and falling in richly
scented locks over his eyes. This darn thing doesn't go,' he
*How's business?' I asked.
*Lousy and terrible.' Fritz grinned richly. *0r I pull off a
new deal in the next month or I go as a gigolo.'
^Either . . . or . . . ,' I corrected, from force of professional
I'm speaking a lousy English just now,' drawled Fritz, with
great self-satisfaction. *Sally says maybe she'll give me a few
*Why, I forgot. You don't know Sally. Too bad of me.
Eventually she's coming around here this afternoon.'
*Is she nice?'
Fritz rolled his naughty black eyes, handing me a rum-
moistened cigarette from his patent tin :
*M ar-vellous ! ' he drawled. *Eventually I believe I'm get-
ting crazy about her.'
*And who is she? What does she do?'
SALLY BOWLES 3 1
*She's an English girl, an actress : sings at the Lady Winder-
mere - hot stuff, believe me ! '
•That doesn't sound much like an English girl, I must say.'
•Eventually she's got a bit of French in her. Her mother
A few minutes later, Sally herself arrived.
*Am I terribly late, Fritz darling?'
•Only half of an hour, I suppose,' Fritz drawled, beaming
with proprietary pleasure. *May I introduce Mr Isherwood -
Miss Bowles? Mr Isherwood is commonly known as Chris.'
•I'm not,' I said. •Fritz is about the only person who's ever
called me Chris in my life.'
Sally laughed. She was dressed in black silk, with a small
cape over her shoulders and a little cap like a page-boy's stuck
jaimtily on one side of her head :
*Do you mind if I use your telephone, sweet?'
•Sure. Go right ahead.' Fritz caught my eye. 'Come into
the other room, Chris. I want to show you something.' He was
evidently longing to hear my first impressions of Sally, his
•For heaven's sake, don't leave me alone with this man!'
she exclaimed. •Or he'll seduce me down the telephone. He's
most terribly passionate.'
As she dialled the number, I noticed that her finger-nails
were painted emerald green, a colour unfortunately chosen,
for it called attention to her hands, which were mudi stained
by cigarette-smoking and as dirty as a little girl's. She was
dark enough to be Fritz's sister. Her face was long and thin,
powdered dead white. She had very large brown eyes which
should have been darker, to match her hair and the pencil
she used for her eyebrows.
•Hilloo,' she cooed, pursing her brilliant cherry lips as
though she were going to kiss the mouthpiece : *Ist das Du,
mein Liebling?' Her mouth opened in a fatuously sweet
smile. Fritz and I sat watching her, like a performance at the
theatre. *Was woUen wir machen, Morgen Abend? Oh, wie
wunderbar . . . Nein, nein, ich werde bleiben Heute Abend
zu Hause. Ja, ja, ich werde wirklich bleiben zu Hause ...
32 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
Auf Wiedersehen, mein Liebling . . .'
She hung up the receiver and turned to us triumphantly.
That's the man I slept with last night,' she announced. *He
makes love marvellously. He's an absolute genius at business
and he's terribly rich — ' She came and sat down on the sofa
beside Fritz, sinking back into the cushions with a sigh:
*Give me some coffee, will you, darling? I'm simply dying of
And soon we were on to Fritz's favourite topic: he pro-
nounced it Larv.
*0n the average,' he told us. I'm having a big affair every
*And how long is it since you had your last?' Sally asked.
^Exactly one year and eleven months!' Fritz gave her his
*How marvellous ! ' Sally puckered up her nose and laughed
a silvery little stage-laugh : ^Doo tell me - what was the last
This, of course, started Fritz off on a complete autobio-
graphy. We had the story of his seduction in Paris, details of a
holiday flirtation at Las Palmas, the four chief New York
romances, a disappointment in Chicago and a conquest in
Boston; then back to Paris for a little recreation, a very
beautiful episode in Vienna, to London to be consoled and,
Tou know, Fritz darling,' said Sally, puckering up her nose
at me, 7 believe the trouble with you is that you've never
really found the right woman.'
*Maybe that's true — ' Fritz took this idea very seriously. His
black eyes became liquid and sentimental: *Maybe I'm still
looking for my ideal . . .'
*But you'll find her one day, I'm absolutely certain you
will.' Sally included me, with a glance, in the game of laugh-
ing at Fritz.
*You think so?' Fritz grinned lusciously, sparkling at her.
*Don't you think so?' Sally appealed to me.
*rm sure I don't know,' I said. ^Because I've never been
able to discover what Fritz's ideal is.'
SALLY BOWLES 33
For some reason, this seemed to please Fritz. He took it as
a kind of testimonial : *And Chris knows me pretty well,' he
chimed in, *If Chris doesn't know, well, I guess no one does.'
Then it was time for Sally to go.
Tm supposed to meet a man at the Adlon at five,' she
explained. *And it's six already! Never mind, it'll do the
old swine good to wait. He wants me to be his mistress, but
I've told him I'm danmed if I will till he's paid all my debts.
Why are men always such beasts?' Opening her bag, she
rapidly retouched her lips and eyebrows: *Oh, by the way,
Fritz darling, could you be a perfect angel and lend me ten
marks? I haven't got a bean for a taxi.'
*Why sure ! ' Fritz put his hand into his pocket and paid up
without hesitation, like a hero.
Sally turned to me: *I say, will you come and have tea
with me sometime? Give me your telephone number. I'll
ring you up.'
I suppose, I thought, she imagines I've got cash. Well, this
will be a lesson to her, once for all. I wrote my number in
her tiny leather book. Fritz saw her out.
*Well ! ' he came bounding back into the room and gleefully
shut the door: *What do you think of her Chris? Didn't I
tell you she was a good-looker?'
Tou did indeed!'
*rm getting crazier about her each time I see her!' With
a sigh of pleasure, he helped himself to a cigarette: *More
*No, thank you very much.'
Tou know, Chris, I think she took a fancy to you, too ! '
Honestly, I do ! ' Fritz seemed pleased. ^Eventually I guess
we'll be seeing a lot of her from now on ! '
When I got back to Frl. Schroeder's, I felt so giddy that
I had to lie down for half an hour on my bed. Fritz's black
coffee was as poisonous as ever.
A few days later, he took me to hear Sally sing.
The Lady Windermere (which now, I hear, no longer
34 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
exists) was an arty *informar bar, just off the Tauentzien-
strasse, which the proprietor had evidently tried to make look
as much as possible like Montparnasse. The walls were
covered with sketches on menu-cards, caricatures and signed
theatrical photographs - ('To the one and only Lady Winder-
mere.' *To Johnny, with all my heart.') The Fan itself, four
times life size, was displayed above the bar. There was a big
piano on a platform in the middle of the room.
I was curious to see how Sally would behave. I had imagined
her, for some reason, rather nervous, but she wasn't, in the
least. She had a surprisingly deep husky voice. She sang
badly, without any expression, her hands hanging down at
her sides - yet her performance was, in its own way, effec-
tive because of her startling appearance and her air of not
caring a curse what people thought of her. Her arms hanging
carelessly limp, and a take-it-or-leave-it grin on her face, she
Now I know why Mother
Told me to be true;
She meant me for Someone
Exactly like you.
There was quite a lot of applause. The pianist, a handsome
young man with blond wavy hair, stood up and solemnly
kissed Sally's hand. Then she sang two more songs, one in
French and the other in German. These weren't so well
After the singing, there was a good deal more hand-kissing
and a general movement towards the bar.
Sally seemed to know everybody in the place. She called them
all Thou and Darling. For a would-be demi-mondaine, she
seemed to have surprisingly little business sense or tact. She
wasted a lot of time making advances to an elderly gentleman
who would obviously have preferred a chat with the barman.
Later, we all got rather drunk. Then Sally had to go off to an
appointment, and the manager came and sat at our table. He
and Fritz talked EngHsh Peerage. Fritz was in his element.
SALLY BOWLES 35
I decided, as so often before, never to visit a place of this
Then Sally rang up, as she had promised, to invite me to
She lived a long way down the Kurfiirstendamm on the
last dreary stretch which rises to Halensee. I was shown into
a big gloomy half-furnished room by a fat untidy landlady
with a pouchy sagging jowl like a toad. There was a broken-
down sofa in one corner and a faded picture of an eighteenth-
century battle, with the wounded reclining on their elbows in
graceful attitudes, admiring the prancings of Frederick the
*0h, hullo, Chris darling!' cried Sally from the doorway.
'How sweet of you to come! I was feeling most terribly
lonely. I've been crying on Frau Karpf's chest. Nicht wahr,
Frau Karpf?' She appealed to the toad landlady, 'ich habe
geweint aur Dein Brust.' Frau Karpf shook her bosom in a
'Would you rather have coffee, Chris, or tea?' Sally con-
tinued. 'You can have either. Only I don't recommend the
tea much. I don't know what Frau Karpf does to it; I think
she empties all the kitchen slops together into a jug and boils
them up with tea-leaves.'
'I'll have coffee, then.'
'Frau Karpf, LeibUng, willst Du sein ein Engel und bring
zwei Tassen von Kaffee?' Sally's German was not merely
incorrect; it was all her own. She pronounced every word in
a mincing, specially 'foreign' manner. You could tell that she
was speaking a foreign language from her expression alone.
'Chris darling, will you be an angel and draw the curtains?'
I did so, although it was still quite light outside. Sally,
meanwhile, had switched on the table-lamp. As I turned from
the window, she curled herself up delicately on the sofa like
a cat, and, opening her bag, felt for a cigarette. But hardly
was the pose complete before she'd jumped to her feet again ;
'Would you like a Prairie Oyster?' She produced glasses,
eggs and a botde of Worcester sauce from the boot-cupboard
36 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
under the dismantled washstand : *I practically live on them.'
Dexterously, she broke the eggs into the glasses, added the
sauce and stirred up the mixture with the end of a fountain-
pen: *They're about all I can afford.' She was back on the
sofa again, daintily curled up.
She was wearing the same black dress to-day, but without
the cape. Instead, she had a Uttle white collar and white cuffs.
They produced a kind of theatrically chaste effect, like a nun
in grand opera. *What are you laughing at, Chris?' she asked.
*I don't know,' I said. But still I couldn't stop grinning.
There was, at that moment, something so extraordinarily
comic in Sally's appearance. She was really beautiful, with her
little dark head, big eyes and finely arched nose - and so
absurdly conscious of all these features. There she lay, as
complacently feminine as a turtle-dove, with her poised self-
conscious head and daintily arranged hands.
*Chris, you swine, do tell me why you're laughing?'
*I really haven't the faintest idea.'
At this, she began to laugh, too : * You are mad, you know ! '
*Have you been here long?' I asked, looking round the
large gloomy room.
*Ever since I arrived in Berlin. Let's see - that was about
two months ago.'
I asked what had made her decide to come out to Germany
at all. Had she come alone? No, she'd come with a girl
friend. An actress. Older than Sally. The girl had been to
Berlin before. She'd told Sally that they'd certainly be able
to get work with the Ufa. So Sally borrowed ten pounds from
a nice old gentleman and joined her.
She hadn't told her parents anything about it until the two
of them had actually arrived in Germany : *I wish you'd met
Diana. She was the most marvellous gold-digger you can
imagine. She'd get hold of men anywhere - it didn't matter
whether she could speak their language or not. She made me
nearly die of laughing. I absolutely adored her.'
But when they'd been together in Berlin three weeks and
no job had appeared, Diana had got hold of a banker,
who'd taken her off with him to Paris.
SALLY BOWLES 37
*And left you here alone? I must say I think that was
pretty rotten of her.'
'Oh, I don't know . . . Everyone's got to look after them-
selves. I expect, in her place, I'd have done the same.'
*I bet you wouldn't ! '
*Anyhow, I'm all right. I can always get along alone.'
*How old are you, Sally?'
'Good God ! And I thought you were about twenty-five ! '
'I know. Everyone does.'
Frau Karpf came shufiiing in with two cups of coffee on a
tarnished metal tray.
'Oh, Frau Karpf, Leibling, wie wunderbar von Dich ! '
'Whatever makes you stay in this house?' I asked, when
the landlady had gone out : 'I'm sure you could get a much
nicer room than this.'
'Yes, I know I could.'
'Well then, why don't you?'
'Oh, I don't know. I'm lazy, I suppose.'
'What do you have to pay here?'
'Eighty marks a month.'
'With breakfast included?'
'No - I don't think so.'
*You don't think so?' I exclaimed severely. 'But surely you
must know for certain?'
Sally took this meekly : 'Yes, it's stupid of me, I suppose.
But, you see, I just give the old girl money when I've got
some. So it's rather difficult to reckon it all up exactly.'
'But, good heavens, Sally - I only pay fifty a month for
my room, with brealdfast, and it's ever so much nicer than
Sally nodded, but continued apologetically: 'And another
thing is, you see, Christopher darling, I don't quite know what
Frau Karpf would do if I were to leave her. I'm sure she'd
never get another lodger. Nobody else would be able to stand
her face and her smell and everything. As it is, she owes
three months' rent. They'd turn her out at once if they knew
3 8 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
she hadn't any lodgers: and if they do that, she says she'll
*A11 the same, I don't see why you should sacrifice your-
self for her.'
I'm not sacrificing myself, really. I quite like being here,
you know. Frau Karpf and I understand each other. She's
more or less what I'll be in thirty years' time. A respectable
sort of landlady would probably turn me out after a week.'
*My landlady wouldn't turn you out.'
Sally smiled vaguely, screwing up her nose : *How do you
like the coffee, Chris darling?'
*I prefer it to Fritz's,' I said evasively.
Sally laughed: Isn't Fritz marvellous? I adore him. I
adore the way he says, "I give a damn." '
* "Hell, I give a damn." ' I tried to imitate Fritz. We both
laughed. Sally lit another cigarette: she smoked the whole
time. I noticed how old her hands looked in the lamplight.
They were nervous, veined and very thin - the hands of a
middle-aged woman. The green finger-nails seemed not to
belong to them at all; to have settled on them by chance - like
hard, bright, ugly little beetles. It's a funny thing,' she added
meditatively. Tritz and I have never slept together, you
know.' She paused, asked with interest: 'Did you think we
Well, yes - I suppose I did.'
'We haven't. Not once . . .' she yawned. *And now I don't
suppose we ever shall.'
We smoked for some minutes in silence. Then Sally began
to tell me about her family. She was the daughter of a
Lancashire mill-owner. Her mother was a Miss Bowles, an
heiress with an estate, and so, when she and Mr Jackson were
married, they joined their names together : 'Daddy's a terrible
snob, although he pretends not to be. My real name's Jackson-
Bowles; but, of course, I can't possibly call myself that on the
stage. People would think I was crazy.'
*I thought Fritz told me your mother was French?'
*No, of course not!' Sally seemed quite annoyed. 'Fritz is
an idiot. He's always inventing things.'
SALLY BOWLES 39
Sally had one sister, named Betty. *She's an absolute angel.
I adore her. She's seventeen, but she's still most terribly
innocent. Mummy's bringing her up to be very county. Betty
would nearly die if she knew what an old whore I am. She
knows absolutely nothing whatever about men.'
*But why aren't you county, too, Sally?'
1 don't know. I suppose that's Daddy's side of the family
coming out. You'd love Daddy. He doesn't care a damn for
anyone. He's the most marvellous business man. And about
once a month he gets absolutely dead tight and horrifies all
Mummy's smart friends. It was he who said I could go to
London and learn acting.'
*You must have left school very young?'
*Yes. I couldn't bear school. I got myself expelled.'
'However did you do that?'
*I told the headmistress I was going to have a baby.'
*Oh rot, Sally, you didn't!'
1 did, honestly! There was the most terrible commotion.
They got. a doctor to examine me, and sent for my parents.
When they found out there was nothing the matter, they
were most frightfully disappointed. The headmistress said
that a girl who could even think of anything so disgusting
couldn't possibly be allowed to stay on and corrupt the other
girls. So I got my own way. And then I pestered Daddy till
he said I might go to London.
Sally had settled down in London, at a hostel, with other
girl students. There, in spite of supervision, she had managed
to spend large portions of the night at young men's flats : The
first man who seduced me had no idea I was a virgin until I
told him afterwards. He was marvellous. I adored him. He was
an absolute genius at comedy parts. He's sure to be terribly
famous, one day.'
After a time, Sally had got crowd-work in fihns and finally
a small part in a touring company. Then she had met Diana.
*And how much longer shall you stay in Berlin?' I asked.
*Heaven knows. This job at the Lady Windermere only
lasts another week. I got it through a man I met at the Eden
Bar. But he's gone off to Vienna now. I must ring up the Ufa
40 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
people again, I suppose. And then there's an awful old Jew
who takes me out sometimes. He's always promising to get
me a contract but he only wants to sleep with me, the old
swine. I think the men in this country are awful. They've none
of them got any money, and they expea you to let them
seduce you if they give you a box of chocolates.'
*How on earth are you going to manage when this job comes
to an end?'
*0h well, I get a small allowance from home, you know.
Not that that'll last much longer. Mummy's already threat-
ened to stop it if I don't come back to England soon ... Of
course, they think I'm here with a girl friend. If Mummy
knew I was on my own, she'd simply pass right out. Anyhow,
I'll get enough to support myself somehow, soon. I loathe
taking money from them. Daddy's business is in a frightfully
bad way now, from the slump.'
*I say, Sally - if you ever really get into a mess I wish
you'd let me know.'
Sally laughed : *That's terribly sweet of you, Chris. But I
don't sponge on my friends.'
Isn't Fritz your friend?' It had jumped out of my mouth.
But Sally didn't seem to mind a bit.
*0h yes, I'm awfully fond of Fritz, of course. But he's got
pots of cash. Somehow, when people have cash, you feel
differently about them — ^I don't know why.'
*And how do you know I haven't got pots of cash, too?'
Tou?' Sally burst out laughing. *Why, I knew you were
hard-up the first moment I set eyes on you ! '
The afternoon Sally came to tea with me, Frl. Schroeder
was beside herself with excitement. She put on her best dress
for the occasion and waved her hair. When the door-bell rang,
she threw open the door with a flourish : *Herr Issyvoo,' she
announced, winking knowingly at me and speaking very loud,
'there's a lady to see you I'
I then formally introduced Sally and Frl. Schroeder to
each other. Frl. Schroeder was overflowing with politeness :
she addressed Sally repeatedly as *Gnadiges Fraulein.' Sally,
with her page-boy cap stuck over one ear, laughed her silvery
SALLY BOWLES 4I
laugh and sat down elegantly on the sofa. Frl. Schroeder
hovered about her in unfeigned admiration and amazement.
She had evidently never seen anyone like Sally before.
When she brought in the tea there were, in place of the
usual little chunks of pale unappetizing pastry, a plateful of
jam tarts arranged in the shape of a star. I noticed also that
Frl. Schroeder had provided us with two tiny paper serviettes,
perforated at the edges to resemble lace. (When, later I
complimented her on these preparations, she told me that she
had always used the serviettes when the Herr Rittmeister had
had his financee to tea. *0h, yes, Herr Issyvoo. You can
depend on me ! I know what pleases a young lady ! ')
*Do you mind if I lie down on your sofa, darling?' Sally
asked, as soon as we were alone.
'No, of course not.'
Sally pulled of her cap, swung her Httle velvet shoes up on
to the sofa, opened her bag and began powdering: I'm
most terribly tired. I didn't sleep a wink last night. I've got
a marvellous new lover.'
I began to put out the tea. Sally gave me a sidelong
'Do I shock you when I talk like that, Christopher darUng?'
*Not in the least.'
*But you don't Uke it?'
'It's no business of mine.' I handed her the tea-glass.
*Oh, for God's sake,' cried Sally, 'don't start being English!
Of course it's your business what you think ! '
'Well then, if you want to know, it rather bores me.'
This armoyed her even more than I had intended. Her
tone changed : she said coldly : 'I thought you'd understand.'
She sighed : 'But I forgot - you're a man.'
'I'm sorry, Sally. I can't help being a man, of course . . .
But please don't be angry with me. I only meant that when
you talk Uke that it's really just nervousness. You're naturally
rather shy with strangers, I think : so you've got into this trick
of trying to bounce them into approving or disapproving of
you, violendy. I know, because I try it myself, sometimes . . .
Only I wish you wouldn't try it on me, because it just doesn't
42 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
work and it only makes me feel embarrassed. If you go to bed
with every single man in Berlin and come and tell me about
it each time, you still won't convince me that you're La Dame
aux Camelias - because, really and truly, you know, you
*No ... I suppose I'm not — ' Sally's voice was carefully
impersonal. She was beginning to enjoy this conversation. I
had succeeded in flattering her in some new way: *Then
what am I, exactly, Christopher darling?'
*You're the daughter of Mr and Mrs Jackson-Bowles.'
Sally sipped her tea : Tes ... I think I see what you mean
. . . Perhaps you're right . . . Then you think I ought to give
up having lovers altogether?'
^Certainly I don't. As long as you're sure you're really
*0f course,' said Sally gravely, after a pause, 'I'd never
let love interfere with my work. Work comes before every-
thing . . . But I don't believe that a woman can be a great
actress who hasn't had any love-affairs — ' she broke ofF sud-
denly: *What are you laughing at, Chris?'
*I'm not laughing.'
*You're always laughing at me. Do you think I'm the most
*No, Sally. I don't think you're an idiot at all. It's quite
true, I was laughing. People I like often make me want to
laugh at them. I don't know why.'
*Then you do like me, Christopher darling?'
Tes, of course I like you Sally. What did you think?'
*But you're not in love with me, are you?'
*No. I'm not in love with you.'
I'm awfully glad. I've wanted you to like me ever since we
first met. But I'm glad you're not in love with me, because,
somehow, I couldn't possibly be in love with you - so, if you
had been, everything would have been spoilt.'
Well then, that's very lucky, isn't it?'
Tes, very . . .' Sally hesitated. 'There's something I want
to confess to you, Chris darling. . . . I'm not sure if you'll
understand or not.'
SALLY BOWLES 43
*Remember5 Fm only a man, Sally.'
Sally laughed : *It's the most idiotic little thing. But some-
how, I'd hate it if you found out without my telling you . . .
You know, the other day, you said Fritz had told you my
mother was French?'
*Yes, I remember.'
*And I said he must have invented it? Well, he hadn't . . .
You see, I'd told him she was.'
*But why on earth did you do that?'
We both began to laugh. ^Goodness knows,' said Sally.
*I suppose I wanted to impress him.'
*But what is there impressive in having a French mother?'
'I'm a bit mad like that sometimes, Chris. You must be
patient with me.'
*A11 right, Sally, I'll be patient.'
*And you'll swear on your honour not to tell Fritz?'
*If you do, you swine,' exclaimed Sally, laughing and pick-
ing up the paper-knife dagger from my writing-table, I'll
cut your throat!'
Afterwards, I asked Frl. Schroeder what she'd thought
of Sally. She was in raptures : *Like a picture, Herr Issyvoo !
And so elegant : such beautiful hands and feet ! One can see
that she belongs to the very best society . . . You know, Herr
Issyvoo, I should never have expected you to have a lady
friend like that ! You always seem so quiet . . .'
*Ah, well, Frl. Schroeder, it's often the quiet ones — '
She went off into her little scream of laughter, swaying
backwards and forwards on her short legs :
'Quite right, Herr Issyvoo! Quite right!'
On New Year's Eve, Sally came to live at Frl. Schroeder's.
It had all been arranged at the last moment. Sally, her
suspicions sharpened by my repeated warnings, had caught
out Frau Karpf in a particularly gross and clumsy piece of
swindling. So she had hardened her heart and given notice.
She was to have Frl. Kost's old room. Frl. Schroeder was, of
44 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
We all had our Sylvester Abend dinner at home: Frl.
Schroeder, Frl. Mayr, Sally, Bobby, a mixer colleague from
the Troika and myself. It was a great success. Bobby, already
restored to favour, flirted daringly with Frl. Schroeder. Frl.
Mayr and Sally, talking as one great artiste to another, discus-
sed the possibilities of music-hall work in England. Sally
told some really startHng Hes, which she obviously for the
moment half-believed, about how she'd appeared at the
Palladium and the London CoUseum. Frl. Mayr capped them
with a story of how she'd been drawn through the streets of
Munich in a carriage by excited students. From this point it
did not take Sally long to persuade Frl. Mayr to sing Sennerin
Abschied von der Alm^ which, after claret cup and a bottle
of very inexpensive cognac, so exactly suited my mood that
I shed a few tears. We all joined in the repeats and the final,
ear-splitting Juch-he! Then Sally sang ^I've got those Little
Boy Blues' with so much expression that Bobby's mixer col-
league, taking it personally, seized her round the waist and
had to be restrained by Bobby, who reminded him firmly that
it was time to be getting along to business.
Sally and I went with them to the Troika, where we met
Fritz. With him was Klaus Linke, the young pianist who used
to accompany Sally when she sang at the Lady Windermere.
Later, Fritz and I went off alone. Fritz seemed rather de-
pressed: he wouldn't tell me why. Some girls did classical
figure-tableaux behind gauze. And then there was a big danc-
ing-hall with telephones on the tables. We had the usual kind
of conversations : Tardon me, Madame, I feel sure from your
voice that you're a fascinating little blonde with long black
eyelashes - just my type. How did I know? Aha, that's my
secret! Yes - quite right: I'm tall, dark, broad-shouldered,
military appearance, and the tiniest little moustache . . . You
don't believe me? Then come and see for yourself!' The
couples were dancing with hands on each other's hips, yelling
in each other's faces, streaming with sweat. An orchestra in
Bavarian costume whooped and drank and perspired beer.
The place stank like a zoo. After this, I think I strayed off
alone and wandered for hours and hours through a jungle of
SALLY BOWLES 45
paper streamers. Next morning, when I woke, the bed was
full of them.
I had been up and dressed for some time when Sally
returned home. She came straight into my room, looking tired
but very pleased with herself.
'HuUo, darling! What time is it?'
*I say, is it really? How marvellous ! I'm practically starv-
ing. I've had nothing for breakfast but a cup of coffee . . .'
She paused expectantly, waiting for my next question.
*Where have you been?' I asked.
*But, darling,' Sally opened her eyes very wide in affected
surprise: 1 thought you knew!'
*I haven't the least idea.'
'Nonsense ! '
*Really I haven't, Sally.'
*0h, Christopher darling, how can you be such a liar ! Why,
it was obvious that you'd planned the whole thing ! The way
you got rid of Fritz - he looked so cross ! Klaus and I nearly
died of laughing.'
All the same, she wasn't quite at her ease. For the first
time, I saw her blush.
*Have you got a cigarette, Chris?'
I gave her one and lit the match. She blew out a long
cloud of smoke and walked slowly to the window :
I'm most terribly in love with him.'
She turned, frowning slightly; crossed to the sofa and
curled herself up carefully, arranging her hands and feet:
'At least, I think I am,' she added.
I allowed a respectful pause to elapse before asking : 'And
is Klaus in love with you?'
'He absolutely adores me.' Sally was very serious indeed.
She smoked for several minutes : 'He says he fell in love with
me the first time we met, at the Lady Windermere. But as
long as we were working together, he didn't dare to say any-
thing. He was afraid it might put me off my singing ... He
says that, before he met me, he'd no idea what a marvel-
46 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
lously beautiful thing a woman's body is. He's only had about
three women before, in his life . . .'
I lit a cigarette.
*0f course, Chris, I don't suppose you really understand . . .
It's awfully hard to explain . . .'
I'm sure it is.'
*rm seeing him again at four o'clock.' Sally's tone was
*In that case, you'd better get some sleep. I'll ask Frl.
Schroeder to scramble you some eggs; or I'll do them myself if
she's still too drunk. You get into bed. You can eat them there.'
*Thanks, Chris darling. You are an angel.' Sally yawned.
*What on earth I should do without you, I don't know.'
After this, Sally and Klaus saw each other every day. They
generally met at our house; and, once, Klaus stayed the whole
night. Frl. Schroeder didn't say much to me about it, but I
could see that she was rather shocked. Not that she dis-
approved of Klaus : she thought him very attractive. But she
regarded Sally as my property, and it shocked her to see me
standing so tamely to one side. I am sure, however, that if I
hadn't known about the affair, and if Sally had really been
deceiving me, Frl. Schroeder would have assisted at the
conspiracy with the greatest relish.
Meanwhile, Klaus and I were a little shy of each other.
When we happened to meet on the stairs, we bowed coldly,
About the middle of January, Klaus left suddenly, for
England. Quite unexpectedly he had got the offer of a very
good job, synchronizing music for the films. The afternoon
he came to say good-bye there was a positively surgical
atmosphere in the flat, as though Sally were undergoing a
dangerous operation. Frl. Schroeder and Frl. Mayr sat in the
living-room and laid cards. The results, Frl. Schroeder later
assured me, couldn't have been better. The eight of clubs had
appeared three times in a favourable conjunction.
SALLY BOWLES 47
Sally spent the whole of the next day curled up on the
sofa in her room, with pencil and paper on her lap. She was
writing poems. She wouldn't let me see them. She smoked
cigarette after cigarette, and mixed Prairie Oysters, but re-
fused to eat more than a few mouthfuls of Frl. Schroeder's
*Can't I bring you something in, Sally?*
*No thanks, Chris darling. I just don't want to eat anything
at all. I feel all marvellous and ethereal, as if I was a kind
of most wonderful saint, or something. You've no idea how
glorious it feels . . . Have a chocolate, darling? Klaus gave me
three boxes. If I eat any more, I shall be sick.'
*I don't suppose I shall ever marry him. It would ruin our
careers. You see, Christopher, he adores me so terribly that
it wouldn't be good for him to always have me hanging
'You might marry after you're both famous.'
Sally considered this:
*No . . . That would spoil everything. We should be trying
all the time to Uve up to our old selves, if you know what I
mean. And we should both be different ... He was so marvel-
lously primitive: just like a faun. He made me feel like a
most marvellous nymph, or something, miles away from any-
where, in the middle of the forest.'
The first letter from Klaus duly arrived. We had all been
anxiously awaiting it; and Frl. Schroeder woke me up specially
early to tell me that it had come. Perhaps she was afraid that
she would never get a chance of reading it herself and relied
on me to tell her the contents. If so, her fears were groundless.
Sally not only showed the letter to Frl. Schroeder, Frl. Mayr,
Bobby and myself, she even read selections from it aloud in
the presence of the porter's wife, who had come up to collect
From the first, the letter left a nasty taste in my mouth. Its
^ole tone was egotistical and a bit patronizing. Klaus didn't
like London, he said. He felt lonely there. The food disagreed
48 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
with him. And the people at the studio treated him with lack
of consideration. He wished Sally were with him : she could
have helped him in many ways. However, now that he was in
England, he would try to make the best of it. He would work
hard and earn money; and Sally was to work hard too. Work
would cheer her up and keep her from getting depressed. At
the end of the latter came various endearments, rather too
slickly applied. Reading diem, one felt: he's written this
kind of thing several times before.
Sally was delighted, however. Klaus' exhortation made such
an impression upon her that she at once rang up several film
companies, a theatrical agency and half a dozen of her *busi-
ness' acquaintances. Nothing definite came of all this, it h
true; but she remained very optimistic throughout the next
twenty-four hours - even her dreams, she told me, had been
full of contracts and four-figure cheques : *It's the most mar-
vellous feeling, Chris. I know I'm going right ahead now and
going to become the most wonderful actress in the world.'
One morning, about a week after this, I went into Sally's
room and found her holding a letter in her hand. I recognized
Klaus' handwriting at once.
*Good morning, Chris darUng.'
*Good morning, Sally.'
*How did you sleep?' Her tone was unnaturally bright and
*A11 right, thanks. How did you?'
Tairly all right . . . Filthy weather, isn't it?'
*Yes.' I walked over to the window to look. It was.
Sally smiled conversationally: *Do you know what this
swine's gone and done?'
*What swine?' I wasn't going to be caught out.
*0h Chris ! For God's sake, don't be so dense ! '
I'm very sorry. I'm afraid I'm a bit slow in the uptake
*I can't be bothered to explain, darling.' Sally held out the
letter. 'Here, read this, will you? Of all the blasted impu-
dence 1 Read it aloud. I want to hear how it sounds.'
SALLY BOWLES 49
'Mein liebes, armes Kind,' the letter began. Klaus called
Sally his poor dear child because, as he explained, he was
afraid that what he had to tell her would make her terribly
unhappy. Nevertheless, he must say it : he must tell her that
he had come to a decision. She mustn't imagine that this had
been easy for him : it had been very difl&cult and painful. All
the same, he knew he was right. In a word, they must part.
*I see now,' wrote Klaus, *that I behaved very selfishly. I
thought only of my own pleasure. But now I realize that I
must have had a bad influence on you. My dear little girl, you
have adored me too much. If we should continue to be to-
gether, you would soon have no will and no mind of your
own.' Klaus went on to advise Sally to live for her work.
*Work is the only thing which matters, as I myself have found.'
He was very much concerned that Sally shouldn't upset her-
self unduly: Tou must be brave, Sally, my poor darling
Right at the end of the letter, it all came out :
*I was invited a few nights ago to a party at the house of
Lady Klein, a leader of the English aristocracy. I met there
a very beautiful and intelligent young English girl named
Miss Gore-Eckersley. She is related to an English lord whose
name I couldn't quite hear - you will probably know which one
I mean. We have met twice since then and had wonderful con-
versations about many things. I do not think I have ever met
a girl who could understand my mind so well as she does — '
'That's a new one on me,' broke in Sally bitterly, with a
short laugh : *I never suspected the boy of having a mind at all.'
At this moment we were interrupted by Frl. Schroeder
who had come, sniffing secrets, to ask if Sally would like a bath.
I left them together to make the most of the occasion.
*I can't be angry with the fool,' said Sally, later in the day,
pacing up and down the room and furiously smoking : *I just
feel sorry for him in a motherly sort of way. But what on
earth'll happen to his work, if he chucks himself at these
women's heads, I can't imagine.'
She made another turn of the room:
*I think if he'd been having a proper affair with another
50 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
woman, and had only told me about it after it'd been going
on for a long time, I'd have minded more. But this girl ! Why,
I don't suppose she's even his mistress.'
'Obviously not,' I agreed. 'I say, shall we have a Prairie
'How marvellous you are, Chris ! You always think of just
the right thing. I wish I could fall in love with you. Klaus
isn't worth your Uttle finger.'
'I know he isn't.'
'The blasted cheek,' exclaimed Sally gulping the Wor-
cester sauce and licking her upper lip, 'of his saying I adored
him! . . . The worst of it is, I did!'
That evening I went into her room and found her with
pen and paper before her :
'I've written about a million letters to him and torn them
'It's no good, Sally. Let's go to the cinema.'
'Right you are, Chris darling.' Sally wiped her eyes with
the corner of her tiny handkerchief : 'It's no use bothering, is
'Not a bit of use.'
'And now I jolly well will be a great actress - just to show
'That's the spirit!'
We went to a little cinema in the Biilowstrasse, where they
were showing a film about a girl who sacrificed her stage
career for the sake of a Great Love, Home and Children. We
laughed so much that we had to leave before the end.
'I feel ever so much better now,' said Sally, as we were
'Perhaps, after all, I can't have been properly in love with
him . . . What do you think?'
'It's rather difficult for me to say.'
'I've often thought I was in love with a man, and then I
found I wasn't. But this time,' Sally's voice was regretful, 'I
really did feel sure of it . . . And now, somehow, everything
seems to have got a bit confused . . .'
SALLY BOWLES 5I
Terhaps you're suffering from shock,' I suggested.
Sally was very pleased with this idea: *Do you know, I
expect I am! ... You know, Chris, you do understand women
most marvellously : better than any man I've ever met . . . I'm
sure that some day you'll write the most marvellous novel
which'll sell simply millions of copies.'
Thank you for believing in me, Sally 1 '
*Do you believe in me, too, Chris?'
*0f course I do.'
*No, but honestly?'
*Well . . . I'm quite certain you'll make a terrific success at
something - only I'm not sure what it'll be ... I mean, there's
so many things you could do if you tried, aren't there?'
*I suppose there are.' Sally became thoughtful. *At least,
sometimes I feel like that . . . And sometimes I feel I'm no
damn' use at anything ... Why, I can't even keep a man
faithful to me for the inside of a month.'
*0h, Sally, don't let's start all that again!'
*A11 right, Chris - we won't start all that. Let's go and have
During the weeks that followed, Sally and I were to-
gether most of the day. Curled up on the sofa in the big
dingy room, she smoked, drank Prairie Oysters, talked end-
lessly of the the future. When the weather was fine, and I
hadn't any lessons to give, we strolled as far as the Witten-
bergplatz and sat on a bench in the sunshine, discussing the
people who went past. Everybody stared at Sally, in her
canary yellow beret and shabby fur coat, like the skin of a
mangy old dog.
*I wonder,' she was fond of remarking, 'what they'd say if
they knew that we two old tramps were to be the most
marvellous novelist and the greatest actress in the world.'
*They'd probably be very much surprised.'
*I expect we shall look back on this time when we're driv-
ing about in our Mercedes, and think: After all, it wasn't
such bad fun!'
52 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
*It wouldn't be such bad fun if we had that Mercedes
We talked continually about wealth, fame, huge contracts
for Sally, record-breaking sales for the novels I should one
day write. 1 think,' said Sally, *it must be marvellous to be
a novelist. You're frightfully dreamy and unpractical and un-
businesslike, and people imagine they can fairly swindle you
as much as they want - and then you sit down and write a book
about them which fairly shows diem what swine they all are,
and it's the most terrific success and you make pots of money.'
*I expect the trouble with me is that I'm not quite dreamy
enough . . .'
'. . . If only I could get a really rich man as my lover. Let's
see ... I shouldn't want more than three thousand a year, and
a flat and a decent car. I'd do anything, just now, to get rich.
If you're rich you can afford to stand out for a really good
contract; you don't have to snap up the first offer you get . . .
Of course, I'd be absolutely faithful to the man who kept
me — '
Sally said things like this very seriously and evidently
believed she meant them. She was in a curious state of mind,
restless and nervy. Often she flew into a temper for no special
reason. She talked incessantly about getting work, but made
no effort to do so. Her allowance hadn't been stopped, so far,
however, and we were living very cheaply, since Sally no
longer cared to go out in the evenings or to see other people
at all. Once, Fritz came to tea. I left them alone together
afterwards to go and write a letter. When I came back Fritz
had gone and Sally was in tears :
That man bores me so ! ' she sobbed. *I hate him ! I should
like to kill him!'
But in a few minutes she was quite calm again. I started
to mix the inevitable Prairie Oyster. Sally, curled up on the
sofa, was thoughtfully smoking:
*I wonder,' she said suddenly, *if I'm going to have a baby.'
*Good God!' I nearly dropped the glass: *Do you really
think you are?'
*I don't know. With me it's so difficult to tell: I'm so
SALLY BOWLES 53
irregular . . . I've felt sick sometimes. It's probably some-
thing I've eaten . . .'
*But hadn't you better see a doctor?'
*0h, I suppose so.' Sally yawned listlessly. 'There's no
*0f course there's a hurry! You'll go and see a doctor
to-morrow ! '
*Look here, Chris, who the hell do you think you're order-
ing about? I wish now I hadn't said anything about it at all ! '
Sally was on the point of bursting into tears again.
'Oh, all right! All right!' I hastily tried to cahn her. 'Do
just what you like. It's no business of n[iine.'
'Sorry, darling. I didn't mean to be snappy. I'll see how
I feel in the morning. Perhaps I will go and see that doctor,
But of course, she didn't. Next day, indeed, she seemed
much brighter : 'Let's go out this evening, Chris. I'm getting
sick of this room. Let's go and see some life ! '
'Right ^ou are, Sally. Where would you like to go?'
'Let's go to the Troika and talk to that old idiot Bobby.
Perhaps he'll stand us a drink - you never know ! '
Bobby didn't stand us any drinks; but Sally's suggestion
proved to have been a good one, nevertheless. For it was
while sitting at the bar of the Troika that we first got into
conversation with Clive.
From that moment onwards we were with him ahnost
continuously; either separately or together. I never once saw
him sober. Clive told us that he drank half a bottle of whisky
before breakfast, and I had no reason to disbelieve him. He
often began to explain to us why he drank so much - it was
because he was very unhappy. But why he was so unhappy
I never found out, because Sally always interrupted to say
that it was time to be going out or moving on to the next place
or smoking a cigarette or having another glass of whisky. She
was drinking nearly as much whisky as Clive himself. It never
seemed to make her really drunk, but sometimes her eyes
looked awful, as though they had been boiled. Every day the
54 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
layer of make-up on her face seemed to get thicker.
Clive was a very big man, good-looking in a heavy Roman
way, and just beginning to get fat. He had about him that sad,
American air of vagueness which is always attractive; doubly
attractive in one who possessed so much money. He was
vague, wistful, a bit lost : dimly anxious to have a good time
and uncertain how to set about getting it. He seemed never
to be quite sure whether he was really enjoying himself,
whether what we were doing was really fun. He had con-
stantly to be reassured. Was this the genuine article? Was
this the real guaranteed height of a Good Time? If was? Yes,
yes, of course - it was marvellous ! It was great ! Ha, ha, ha !
His big school-boyish laugh rolled out, re-echoed, became
rather forced and died away abruptly on that puzzled note
of enquiry. He couldn't venture a step without our support.
Yet, even as he appealed to us, I thought I could sometimes
detect odd sly flashes of sarcasm. What did he really think of
Every morning, Clive sent round a hired car to fetch us to
the hotel where he was staying. The chaffeur always brought
with him a wonderful bouquet of flowers, ordered from the
most expensive flower-shop in the Linden. One morning I
had a lesson to give and arranged with Sally to join them later.
On arriving at the hotel, I found that Clive and Sally had
left early to fly to Dresden. There was a note from Clive
apologizing profusely and inviting me to lunch at the hotel
restaurant, by myself, as his guest. But I didn't. I was afraid
of that look in the head waiter's eye. In the evening, when
Clive and Sally returned, Clive had brought me a present:
it was a parcel of six silk shirts. *He wanted to get you a gold
cigarette case,' Sally whispered in my ear, *but I told him
shirts would be better. Yours are in such a state . . . Besides,
we've got to go slow at present. We don't want him to think
we're gold-diggers . . .'
I accepted them gratefully. What else could I do? Clive
had corrupted us utterly. It was understood that he was going
to put up the money to launch Sally upon a stage career. He
often spoke of this, in a thoroughly nice way, as though it
SALLY BOWLES 55
were a very trivial matter, to be settled, without fuss, between
friends. But no sooner had he touched on the subject than
his attention seemed to wander off again - his thoughts were
as easily distracted as those of a child. Sometimes Sally was
very hard put to it, I could see, to hide her impatience. 'Just
leave us alone for a bit now, darling,' she would whisper to
me, *CUve and I are going to talk business.' But however
tactfully Sally tried to bring him to the point, she never quite
succeeded. When I rejoined them, half an hour later, I would
find Clive smiling and sipping his whisky; and Sally also smil-
ing, to conceal her extreme irritation.
1 adore him,' Sally told me, repeatedly and very solemnly,
whenever we were alone together. She was intensely earnest
in believing this. It was like a dogma in a newly adopted
religious creed : Sally adores Clive. It is a very solemn under-
taking to adore a millionarie. Sally's features began to assume,
with increasing frequency, the rapt expression of the theatrical
nun. And indeed, when CUve, with his charming vagueness,
gave a particularly flagrant professional beggar a twenty-mark
note, we would exchange glances of genuine awe. The waste
of so much good money affected us both like something in-
spired, a kind of miracle.
There came an afternoon when Clive seemed more nearly
sober than usual. He began to make plans. In a few days we
were all three of us to leave Berlin, for good. The Orient
Express would take us to Athens. Thence, we should fly to
Egj^t. From Egypt to Marseilles. From Marseilles, by boat
to South America. Then Tahiti. Singapore. Japan. Clive pro-
nounced the names as though they had been stations on the
Wannsee railway, quite as a matter of course: he had been
there already. He knew it all. His matter-of-fact boredom
gradually infused reality into the preposterous conversation.
After all, he could do it. I began seriously to believe that
he meant to do it. With a mere gesture of his wealth, he
could alter the whole course of our lives.
What would become of us? Once started, we should never
go back. We could never leave him. Sally, of course, he would
56 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
marry. I should occupy an ill-defined position: a kind of
private secretary without duties. With a flash of vision, I
saw myself ten years hence, in flannels and black and white
shoes, gone heavier round the jowl, and a bit glassy, pouring
out a drink in the lounge of a Californian hotel.
*Come and cast an eye at the funeral,' Clive was saying.
What funeral, darling?' Sally asked, patiently. This was a
new kind of interruption.
*Why, say, haven't you noticed it?' Clive laughed. It's a
most elegant funeral. It's been going past for the last hour.'
We all three went out on to the balcony of CUve's room.
Sure enough, the street below was full of people. They were
burying Hermaim Miiller. Ranks of pale steadfast clerks,
government ofiicials, trade vmion secretaries - the whole drab
weary pageant of Prussian Social Democracy - trudged past
under their barmers towards the silhouetted arches of the
Brandenburger Tor, from which the long black streamers
stirred slowly in an evening breeze.
*Say, who was this guy, anyway?' asked Clive, looking
down. *I guess he must have been a big swell?'
*God knows,' Sally answered, yawning. *Look, Clive darl-
ing, isn't it a marvellous sunset?'
She was quite right. We had nothing to do with those
Germans down there, marching, or with the dead man in the
coffin, or with the words on the banners. In a few days, I
thought, we shall have forfeited all kinship with ninety-nine
per cent. Of the population of the world, with the men and
women who earn their living, who insure their Uves, who are
anxious about the future of their children. Perhaps in tiie
Middle Ages people felt like this, when they believed them-
selves to have sold their souls to the Devil. It was a curious,
exhilarating, not unpleasant sensation : but, at the same time,
I felt slightly scared. Yes, I said to myself, I've done it, now.
I am lost.
Next morning, we arrived at the hotel at the usual time.
The porter eyed us, I thought, rather queerly.
*Whom did you wish to see. Madam?'
SALLY BOWLES 57
The question seemed so extraordinary that we both laughed.
^Why, number 365, of course,' Sally answered. *Who did
you think? Don't you know us by this time?'
I'm afraid you can't do that. Madam. The gentleman in
365 left early this morning.'
'Left? You mean he's gone out for the day? That's funny !
What time will he be back?'
*He didn't say anything about coming back. Madam. He
was travelling to Budapest.'
As we stood there goggling at him, a waiter hurried up
with a note.
*Dear Sally and Chris,' it said, *I can't stick this darned
town any longer, so am off. Hoping to see you sometime,
*(These are in case I forgot anything.)'
In the envelope were three hundred-mark notes. These,
the fading flowers, Sally's four pairs of shoes and two hats
(bought in Dresden) and my six shirts were our total assets
from Clive's visit. At first, Sally was very angry. Then we
both began to laugh:
'Well, Chris, I'm afraid we're not much use as gold-diggers,
are we, darling?'
We spent most of the day discussing whether Clive's de-
parture was a premeditated trick. I was inclined to think it
wasn't. I imagined him leaving every new town and every
new set of acquaintances in much the same sort of way. I
sympathized with him, a good deal.
Then came the question of what was to be done with the
money. Sally decided to put by two hundred and fifty marks
for some new clothes : fifty marks we would blow that even-
But blowing the fifty marks wasn't as much fun as we'd
imagined it would be. Sally felt ill and couldn't eat the
wonderful dinner we'd ordered. We were both depressed.
Tou know, Chris, I'm beginning to think that men are
always going to leave me. The more I think about it, the more
men I remember who have. It's ghastly, really.'
I'll never leave you, Sally.'
58 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
* Won't you, darling? . . . But seriously, I believe I'm a sort
of Ideal Woman, if you know what I mean. I'm the sort of
woman who can take men away from their wives, but I could
never keep anybody for long. And that's because I'm the
type which every man imagines he wants, until he gets me;
and then he finds he doesn't really, after all.'
*Well, you'd rather be that than the Ugly Duckling with
the Heart of Gold, wouldn't you?'
*. . . I could kick myself, the way I behaved to Clive. I
ought never to have bothered him about money, the way I
did. I expect he thought I was just a common little whore,
like all the others. And I really did adore him - in a way
... If I'd married him, I'd have made a man out of him.
I'd have got him to give up drinking.'
Tou set him such a good example.'
We both laughed.
*The old swine might at least have left me with a decent
*Never mind, darling. There's more where he came from.'
'I don't care,' said Sally. I'm sick of being a whore. I'll
never look at a man with money again.'
Next morning, Sally felt very ill. We both put it down to
the drink. She stayed in bed the whole morning and when
she got up she fainted. I wanted her to see a doctor straight
away, but she wouldn't. About tea-time, she fainted again and
looked so bad afterwards that Frl. Schroeder and I sent for
a doctor without consulting her at all.
The doctor, when he arrived, stayed a long time. Frl.
Schroeder and I sat waiting in the living-room to hear his
diagnosis. But, very much to our surprise, he left the flat
suddenly, in a great hurry, without even looking in to wish us
good afternoon. I went at once to Sally's room. Sally was
sitting up in bed, with a rather fixed grin on her face :
*Well, Christopher darling, I've been made an April Fool
*What do you mean?'
Sally tried to laugh:
SALLY BOWLES 59
*He says Fm going to have a baby.'
*Don't looked so scared, darling! I've been more or less
expecting it, you know.'
It's Klaus's, I suppose?'
*And what are you going to do about it?'
*Not have it, of course.' Sally reached for a cigarette. I sat
stupidly staring at my shoes.
'Will the doctor . . .'
*No, he won't. I asked him straight out. He was terribly
shocked. I said : "My dear man, what do you imagine would
happen to the unfortunate child if it was born? Do I look as
if I'd make a good mother?" '
*And what did he say to that?'
*He seemed to think it was quite beside the point. The
only thing which matters to him is his professional reputation.'
*Well then, we've got to find someone without a professional
reputation, that's all.'
'I should think,' said Sally, Ve'd better ask Frl. Schroeder.'
So Frl. Schroeder was consulted. She took it very well : she
was alarmed but extremely practical. Yes, she knew of some-
body. A friend of a friend's friend had once had difficulties.
And the doctor was a fully qualified man, very clever indeed.
The only trouble was, he might be rather expensive.
*Thank goodness,' Sally interjected, *we haven't spent all
that swine dive's money ! '
*I must say, I think Klaus ought — '
*Look here, Chris. Let me tell you this once for all : if I
catch you writing to Klaus about this business, I'll never for-
give you and I'll never speak to you again!'
*0h, very well ... Of course I won't. It was just a sug-
gestion, that's all.'
I didn't like the doctor. He kept stroking and pinching
Sally's arm and pawing her hand. However, he seemed the
right man for the job. Sally was to go into his private nursing-
home as soon as there was a vacancy for her. Everything was
perfectly official and above-board. In a few poUshed sentences.
60 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
the dapper little doctor dispelled the least whiff of sinister
illegality. Sally's state of health, he explained, made it quite
impossible for her to undergo the risks of childbirth: there
would be a certificate to that effect. Needless to say, the
certificate would cost a lot of money. So would the nursing-
home and so would the operation itself. The doctor wanted
two hundred and fifty marks down before he would make any
arrangements at all. In the end, we beat him down to two
hundred. Sally wanted the extra fifty, she explained to me
later, to get some new nightdresses.
At last, it was spring. The cafes were putting up wooden
platforms on the pavement and the ice-cream shops were
opening, with their rainbow-wheels. We drove to the nursing-
home in an open taxi. Because of the lovely weather, Sally
was in better spirits than I had seen her in for weeks. But
Frl. Schroeder, though she bravely tried to smile, was on the
verge of tears. *The doctor isn't a Jew, I hope?' Frl. Mayr
asked me sternly. *Don't you let one of those filthy Jews touch
her. They always try to get a job of that kind, the beasts ! '
Sally had a nice room, clean and cheerful, with a balcony.
I called there again in the evening. Lying there in bed with-
out her make-up, she looked years younger, like a little girl :
*Hullo, darling . . . They haven't killed me yet, you see. But
they've been doing their best to . . . Isn't this a funny place?
... I wish that pig Klaus could see me . . . This is what comes
of not understanding his mind . . .'
She was a bit feverish and laughed a great deal. One of
the nurses came in for a moment, as if looking for something,
and went out again almost immediately.
*She was dying to get a peep at you,' Sally explained. *You
see, I told her you were the father. You don't mind, do you
darling . . .'
*Not at aU. It's a compliment.'
It makes everything so much simpler. Otherwise, if there's
no one, they think it so odd. And I don't care for being sort
of looked down on and pitied as the poor betrayed girl who
gets abandoned by her lover. It isn't particularly flattering
SALLY BOWLES 6 1
for me, is it? So I told her we were most terribly in love but
fearfully hard up, so that we couldn't afford to marry, and
how we dreamed of the time when we'd both be rich and
famous and then we'd have a family of ten, just to make up
for this one. The nurse was awfully touched, poor girl. In fact,
she wept. To-night, when she's on duty, she's going to show
me pictures of her young man. Isn't it sweet?'
Next day, Frl. Schroeder and I went round to the nursing-
home together. We found Sally lying flat, with the bedclothes
up to her chin :
*Oh, hullo, you two! Won't you sit down? What time is
it?' She turned uneasily in bed and rubbed her eyes: *Where
did all these flowers come from?'
*We brought them.'
*How marvellous of you ! ' Sally smiled vacantly. *Sorry to
be such a fool to-day . . . It's this bloody chloroform . . . My
head's full of it.'
We only stayed a few minutes. On the way home, Frl.
Schroeder was terribly upset : 'Will you believe it, Herr Issy-
voo, I couldn't take it more to heart if it was my own daugh-
ter? Why, when I see the poor child suffering like that, I'd
rather it was myself lying there in her place - I would
Next day Sally was much better. We all went to visit her :
Frl. Schroeder, Frl. Mayr, Bobby and Fritz. Fritz, of course,
hadn't the faintest idea what had really happened. Sally, he
had been told, was being operated upon for a small internal
ulcer. As always is the way with people when they aren't in
the know, he made all kinds of unintentional and startlingly
apt references to storks, gooseberry-bushes, perambulators
and babies generally; and even recounted a special new item
of scandal about a well-known Berlin society lady who was
said to have undergone a recent illegal operation. Sally and I
avoided each other's eyes.
On the evening of the next day, I visited her at the nursing-
home for the last time. She was to leave in the morning. She
was alone and we sat together on the balcony. She seemed
62 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
more or less all right now and could walk about the room.
'I told the Sister I didn't want to see anybody to-day except
you.' Sally yawned languidly. Teople make me feel so
* Would you rather I went away too?'
*0h no,' Said Sally, without much enthusiasm, *if you go,
one of the nurses will only come in and begin to chatter; and
if I'm not lively and bright with her, they'll say I have to stay
in this hellish place a couple of extra days, and I couldn't
She stared out moodily over the quiet street :
*You know, Chris, in some ways I wish I'd had that kid . . .
It would have been rather marvellous to have had it. The last
day or two, I've been sort of feeling what it would be like to
be a mother. Do you know, last night, I sat here for a long
time by myself and held this cushion in my arms and imagined
it was my baby? And I felt a most marvellous sort of shut-off
feeling from all the rest of the world. I imagined how it'd
grow up and how I'd work for it, and how, after I'd put it to
bed at nights, I'd go out and make love to filthy old men to
get money to pay for its food and clothes . . . It's all very well
for you to grin like that, Chris ... I did really ! '
*Well, why don't you marry and have one?'
1 don't know ... I feel as if I'd lost faith in men. I just
haven't any use for them at all . . . Even you, Christopher, if
you were to go out into the street now and be run over by a
taxi ... I should be sorry in a way, of course, but I shouldn't
really care a damn.'
Thank you, Sally.'
We both laughed.
1 didn't mean that, of course, darling - at least, not per-
sonally. You mustn't mind what I say while I'm like this. I
get all sorts of crazy ideas into my head. Having babies makes
you feel awfully primitive, like a sort of wild animal or some-
thing, defending its young. Only the trouble is, I haven't any
young to defend ... I expect that's what makes me so fright-
fully bad-tempered to everybody just now.'
SALLY BOWLES 63
It was partly as the result of this conversation that I sud-
denly decided, that evening, to cancel all my lessons, leave
Berlin as soon as possible, go to some place on the Baltic and
try to start working. Since Christmas, I had hardly written a
Sally, when I told her my idea, was rather relieved, I think.
We both needed a change. We talked vaguely of her joining
me later; but, even then, I felt that she wouldn't. Her plans
were very uncertain. Later, she might go to Paris, or to the
Alps, or to the South of France, she said - if she could get
the cash. *But probably,' she added, *I shall just stay on here.
I should be quite happy. I seem to have got sort of used to
I returned to Berlin towards the middle of July.
All this time I had heard nothing of Sally, beyond half a
dozen postcards, exchanged during the first month of my
absence. I wasn't much surprised to find she'd left her room
in our flat :
*Of course, I quite understand her going. I couldn't make
her as .comfortable as she'd the right to expect; especially as
we haven't any running water in the bedrooms.' Poor Frl.
Schroeder's eyes had filled with tears. 'But it was a terrible
disappointment to me, all the same . . . FrL Bowles behaved
very handsomely, I can't complain about that. She insisted
on paying for her room until the end of July. I was entitled to
the money, of course, because she didn't give notice until the
twenty-first - but I'd never have mentioned it . . . She was
such a charming young lady — '
*Have you got her address?'
*0h yes, and the telephone number. You'll be ringing her
up, of course. She'll be delighted to see you . . . The other
gentlemen came and went, but you were her real friend, Herr
Issyvoo. You know, I always used to hope that you two
would get married. You'd have made an ideal couple. You
always had such a good steady influence on her, and she used
to brighten you up a bit when you got too deep in your books
64 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
and studies ... Oh yes, Herr Issyvoo, you may laugh - but
you never can tell ! Perhaps it isn't too late yet ! '
Next morning, Frl. Schroeder woke me in great excite-
*Herr Issyvoo, what do you think ! They've shut the Darm-
stadter und National! There'll be thousands ruined, I
shouldn't wonder! The milkman says we'll have civil war in
a fortnight ! Whatever do you say to that ! '
As soon as I'd got dressed, I went down into the street.
Sure enough, there was a crowd outside the branch bank on
the Nollendorfplatz corner, a lot of men with leather satchels
and women with stringbags - women like Frl. Schroeder her-
self. The iron lattices were drawn down over the bank win-
dows. Most of the people were staring intently and rather
stupidly at the locked door. In the middle of the door was
fixed a small notice, beautifully printed in Gothic type, like
a page from a classic author. The notice said the Reichs-
president had guaranteed the deposits. Everything was quite
all right. Only the bank wasn't going to open.
A litde boy was playing with a hoop amongst the crowd.
The hoop ran against a woman's legs. She flew out at him at
once: *Du, sei bloss nicht so frech! Cheeky little brat! What
do you want here ! ' Another woman joined in, attacking the
scared boy : *Get out ! You can't understand it, can you?' And
another asked, in furious sarcasm: *Have you got your money
in the bank too, perhaps?' The boy fled before their pent-up,
In the afternoon it was very hot. The details of the new
emergency decrees were in the early evening papers - terse,
governmentally inspired. One alarmist headline stood out
boldly, barred with blood-red ink: ^Everything Collapses!'
A Nazi journalist reminded his readers that to-morrow, the
fourteenth of July, was a day of national rejoicing in France;
and doubtless, he added, the French would rejoice with
especial fervour this year, at the prospect of Germany's down-
fall. Going into an outfitter's, I bought myself a pair of
ready-made flannel trousers for twelve marks fifty - a gesture
SALLY BOWLES 65
of confidence by England. Then I got into the Underground
to go and visit Sally.
She was living in a block of three-room flats, designed as
an Artists' Colony, not far from the Breitenbachplatz. When
I rang the bell, she opened the door to me herself :
*Hillooo, Chris, you old swine ! '
*Hullo, Sally darUng!'
*How are you? ... Be careful, darling, you'll make me un-
tidy. I've got to go out in a few minutes.'
I had never seen her all in white before. It suited her. But
her face looked thinner and older. Her hair was cut in a new
way and beautifully waved.
Tou're very smart,' I said.
*Am I?' Sally smiled her pleased, dreamy, self conscious
smile. I followed her into the sitting-room of the flat. One
wall was entirely window. There was some cherry-coloured
wooden furniture and a very low divan with gaudy fringed
cushions. A fluffy white miniature dog jumped to its feet and
yapped. Sally picked it up and went through the gestures of
kissing it, just not touching it with her lips :
*Freddi, mein Liebling, Du bist soo siiss ! '
Tours?' I asked, noticing the improvement in her German
*No. He belongs to Gerda, the girl I share this flat with.'
*Have you known her long?'
*Only a week or two.'
*What's she like?'
*Not bad. As stingy as hell. I have to pay for practically
It's nice here.'
*Do you think so? Yes, I suppose it's all right. Better than
that hole in the Nollendorfstrasse, anyhow.'
*What made you leave? Did you and Frl. Schroeder have
*No, not exactly. Only I got so sick of hearing her talk.
She nearly talked my head off. She's an awful old bore, really.'
*She's very fond of you.'
SaUy shrugged her shoulders with a slight impatient list-
66 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
less movement. Throughout this conversation. I noticed that
she avoided my eyes. There was a long pause. I felt puzzled
and vaguely embarrassed. I began to wonder how soon I
could make an excuse to go.
Then the telephone bell rang. Sally yawned, pulled the
instrument across on to her lap :
*Hilloo, who's there? Yes, it's me . . . No. . . . No . . . I've
really no idea . . . Really I haven't! I'm to guess?' Her nose
wrinkled: Is it Erwin? No? Paul? No? Wait a minute ...
Let me see . . .'
*And now, darling, I must fly!' cried Sally, when, at last,
the conversation was over: ^I'm about two hours late
already ! '
*Got a new boy friend?'
But Sally ignored my grin. She lit a cigarette with a faint
expression of distaste.
I've got to see a man on business,' she said briefly.
*And when shall we meet again?'
I'll have to see, darling . . . I've got such a lot on, just at
present ... I shall be out in the country all day to-morrow,
and probably the day after . . . I'll let you know ... I may be
going to Frankfurt quite soon.'
*Have you got a job there?'
*No. Not exactly.' Sally's voice was brief, dismissing this
subject. Tve decided not to try for any film work until the
autumn, anyhow. I shall take a thorough rest.'
Tou seem to have made a lot of new friends.'
Again, Sally's manner became vague, carefully casual :
Tes, I suppose I have . . . It's probably a reaction from all
those months at Frl. Shroeder's, when I never saw a soul.'
*Well,' I couldn't resist a malicious grin. *I hope for your
sake that none of your new friends have got their money in
the Darmstadter und National.'
*Why?' She was interested at once. 'What's the matter
*Do you really mean to say you haven't heard?'
*0f course not. I never read the papers, and I haven't been
out to-day, yet.'
SALLY BOWLES 67
I told her the news of the crisis. At the end of it, she was
looking quite scared.
'But why on earth,' she exclaimed impatiently, *didn't you
tell me all this before? It may be serious.'
I'm sorry, Sally. I took it for granted that you'd know
already . . . especially as you seem to be moving in financial
circles, nowadays — '
But she ignored this little dig. She was frowning, deep in
her own thoughts :
*If it was very serious, Leo would have rung up and told
me . . .' she murmured at length. And this reflection appeared
to ease her mind considerably.
We walked out together to the corner of the street, where
Sally picked up a taxi.
*It's an awful nuisance living so far off,' she said. Tm
probably going to get a car soon.'
*By the way,' she added just as we were parting, 'what was
it like on Ruegen?'
1 bathed a lot.'
*Well, good-bye, darling. I'll see you sometime.'
*Good-bye, Sally. Enjoy yourself.'
About a week after this, Sally rang me up :
*Can you come round at once, Chris? It's very important.
I want you to do me a favour.'
This time, also, I found Sally alone in the flat.
*Do you want to earn some money, darling?' she greeted
'Splendid ! You see, it's like this . . .' She was in a fluffy
pink dressing-wrap and inclined to be breathless : 'There's a
man I know who's starting a magazine. It's going to be most
terribly highbrow and artistic, with lots of marvellous modern
photographs, ink-pots and girls' heads upside down - you
know the sort of thing . . . The point is each number is going
to take a special country and kind of review it, with articles
about the manners and customs, and all that . . . Well, the first
68 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
country they're going to do is England and they want me to
write an article on the English Girl. ... Of course, I haven't
the foggiest idea what to say, so what I thought was: you
could write the article in my name and get the money - I
only want not to disoblige this man who's editing the paper,
because he may be terribly useful to me in other ways, later
on . . .'
*A11 right, I'll try.'
*0h, marvellous ! '
*How soon do you want it done?'
*You see, darling, that's the whole point. I must have it at
once . . . Otherwise it's no earthly use, because I promised it
four days ago and I simply must give it him this evening . . .
It needn't be very long. About five hundred words.'
Well, I'll do my best . . .'
*Good. That's wonderful ... Sit down wherever you like.
Here's some paper. You've got a pen? Oh, and here's a
dictionary, in case there's a word you can't spell . . . I'll just
be having my bath.'
When, three-quarters of an hour later, Sally came in dressed
for the day, I had finished. Frankly, I was rather pleased with
She read it through carefully, a slow frown gathering be-
tween her beautifully pencilled eyebrows. When she had
finished, she laid down the manuscript with a sigh:
I'm sorry, Chris. It won't do at all.'
'Won't do?' I was genuinely taken aback.
*Of course, I dare say it's very good from a literary point
of view, and all that . . .'
*Well then, what's wrong with it?'
It's not nearly snappy enough.' Sally was quite final. It's
not the kind of thing this man wants, at all.'
I shrugged my shoulders : I'm sorry, Sally. I did my best.
But journalism isn't really in my line, you know.'
There was a resentful pause. My vanity was piqued.
'My goodness, I know who'll do it for me if I ask him!'
cried Sally, suddenly jumping up. *Why on earth didn't I
SALLY BOWLES 69
think of him before?' She grabbed the telephone and dialled
a number : *0h, hilloo, Kurt darling . . .'
In three minutes, she had explained all about the article.
Replacing the receiver on its stand, she announced triumph-
antly : *That's marvellous ! He's going to do it at once . . .'
She paused impressively and added : *That was Kurt Rosen-
*You've never heard of him?' This annoyed Sally; she
pretended to be immensely surprised : 1 thought you took an
interest in the cinema? He's miles the best young scenario
writer. He earns pots of money. He's only doing this as a
favour to me, of course ... He says he'll dictate it to his
secretary while he's shaving and then send it straight round
to the editor's flat . . . He's marvellous ! '
*Are you sure it'll be what the editor wants, this time?'
*0f course it will! Kurt's an absolute genius. He can do
anything. Just now, he's writing a novel in his spare time. He's
so fearfully busy, he can only dictate it while he's having
breakfast. He showed me the first few chapters, the other
day. Honestly, I think it's easily the best novel I've ever read.'
*That's the sort of writer I admire,' Sally continued. She
was careful to avoid my eye. 'He's terribly ambitious and he
works the whole time; and he can write anything - anything
you like : scenarios, novels, plays, poetry, advertisements . . .
He's not a bit stuck-up about it either. Not like these young
men who, because they've written one book, start talking
about Art and imagining they're the most wonderful authors
in the world . . . They make me sick '
Irritated as I was with her, I couldn't help laughing :
'Since when have you disapproved of me so violently,
'I don't disapprove of you' - but she couldn't look me in the
face - *not exactly.'
*I merely make you sick?'
*I don't know what it is ... You seem to have changed,
somehow . . .'
70 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
*How have I changed?'
It's diflficult to explain ... You don't seem to have any
energy or want to get anywhere. You're so dilettante. It
I'm sorry.' But my would-be facetious tone sounded
rather forced. Sally frowned down at her tiny black shoes.
*You must remember Fm a woman, Christopher. All wo-
men like men to be strong and decided and following out
their careers. A woman wants to be motherly to a man and
protect his weak side, but he must have a strong side too,
which she can respect ... If you ever care for a woman. I
don't advise you to let her see that you've got no ambition.
Otherwise she'll get to despise you. '
Tes, I see . . . And that's the principle on which you choose
your friends -- your new friends?'
She flared up at this :
It's very easy for you to sneer at my friends for having
good business heads. If they've got money, it's because they've
worked for it ... I suppose you consider yourself better than
*Yes, Sally, since you ask me - if they're at all as I
imagine them - I do.'
There you go, Christopher ! That's typical of you. That's
what annoys me about you : you're conceited and lazy. If you
say things like that, you ought to be able to prove them.'
'How does one prove that one's better than somebody else?
Besides, that's not what I said. I said I considered myself
better - it's simply a matter of taste.'
Sally made no reply. She Ut a cigarette, slightly frowning.
*You say I seem to have changed,' I continued. 'To be
quite frank, I've been thinking the same about you.'
Sally didn't seem surprised: *Have you, Christopher?
Perhaps you're right. I don't know ... Or perhaps we've
neither of us changed. Perhaps we're just seeing each other
as we really are. We're awfully different in lots of ways, you
*Yes, I've noticed that.'
SALLY BOWLES 7I
*I think,' said Sally, smoking meditatively, her eyes on her
shoes, *that we may have sort of outgrown each other, a bit.'
Terhaps we have . . .' I smiled : Sally's real meaning was
so obvious : *At any rate, we needn't quarrel about it, need
*Of course not, darling.'
There was a pause. Then I said that I must be going. We
were both rather embarrassed, now, and extra polite.
*Are you certain you won't have a cup of coffee?'
*No, thanks awfully.'
'Have some tea? It's specially good. I got it as a present.'
*No, thanks very much indeed, Sally. I really must be get-
*Must you?' She sounded, after all, rather relieved. *Be
sure and ring me up some time soon, won't you?'
It wasn't until I had actually left the house and was walking
quickly away up the street that I realized how angry and
ashamed I felt. What an utter little bitch she is, I thought.
After all, I told myself, it's only what I've always known she
was like^- right from the start. No, that wasn't true : I hadn't
known it. I'd flattered myself - why not be frank about it? -
that she was fond of me. Well, I'd been wrong, it seemed; but
could I blame her for that? Yet I did blame her, I was furious
with her; nothing would have pleased me more, at that
moment, than to see her soundly whipped. Indeed, I was so
absurdly upset that I began to wonder whether I hadn't, all
this time, in my own peculiar way, been in love with Sally
But no, it wasn't love either - it was worse. It was the
cheapest, most childish kind of wounded vanity. Not that I
cared a curse what she thought of my article - well, just a
little, perhaps, but only a very little; my literary self-con-
ceit was proof against anything she could say - it was her
criticism of myself. The awful sexual flair women have for
taking the stuffing out of a man ! It was no use telling myself
that Sally had the vocabulary and mentality of a twelve-year-
72 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
old schoolgirl, that she was altogether comic and preposterous;
it was no use - I only knew that I'd been somehow made to
feel a sham. Wasn't I a bit of a sham anyway - though not
for her ridiculous reasons - with my arty talk to lady pupils
and my newly-acquired parlour-socialism? Yes, I was. But
she knew nothing about that. I could quite easily have im-
pressed her. That was the most humiliating part of the whole
business; I had mis-managed our interview from the very
beginning. I had blushed and squabbled, instead of being
wonderful, convincing, superior, fatherly, mature. I had tried
to compete with her beastly little Kurt on his own ground;
just the very thing, of course, which Sally wanted and expected
me to do ! After all these months, I had made the one really
fatal mistake - I had let her see that I was not only incom-
petent but jealous. Yes, vulgarly jealous. I could have kicked
myself. There mere thought made me prickly with shame
from head to foot.
Well, the mischief was done, now. There was only one
thing for it, and that was to forget the whole affair. And
of course it would be impossible for me ever to see Sally
It must have been about ten days after this that I was
visited, one morning, by a small pale dark-haired young man
who spoke American fluently with a slight foreign accent. His
name, he told me, was George P Sandars. He had seen my
English-teaching advertisement in the BZ am Mittag.
When would you like to begin?' I asked him.
But the young man shook his head hastily. Oh no, he hadn't
come to take lessons, at all. Rather disappointed, I waited
politely for him to explain the reason of his visit. He seemed
in no hurry to do this. Instead, he accepted a cigarette, sat
down and began to talk chattily about the States. Had I ever
been to Chicago? No? Well, had I heard of James L
Schraube? I hadn't? The young man uttered a faint sigh. He
had the air of being very patient with me, and with the world
in general. He had evidently been over the same ground with
a good many other people already. James L Schraube, he
SALLY BOWLES 73
explained, was a very big man in Chicago: he owned a
whole chain of restaurants and several cinemas. He had two
large country houses and a yacht on Lake Michigan. And he
possessed no less than four cars. By this time, I was beginning
to drum with my fingers on the table. A pained expression
passed over the young man's face. He excused himself for
taking up my valuable time; he had only told me about Mr
Schraube, he said, because he thought I might be interested -
his tone implied a gentle rebuke - and because Mr Schraube,
had I known him, would certainly have vouched for his friend
Sandars' respectability. However ... it couldn't be helped . . .
well, would I lend him two hundred marks? He needed the
money in order to start a business; it was a unique oppor-
tunity, which he would miss altogether if he didn't find the
money before to-morrow morning. He would pay me back
within three days. If I gave him the money now he would
return that same evening with papers to prove that the whole
thing was perfectly genuine.
No? Ah well ... He didn't seem unduly surprised. He
rose to go at once, like a business man who has wasted a
valuable twenty minutes on a prospective customer : the loss,
he contrived politely to imply, was mine, not his. Already at
the door, he paused for a moment: Did I happen, by any
chance, to know some film actresses? He was travelling, as
a sideline, in a new kind of face-cream specially invented to
keep the skin from getting dried up by the studio lights. It
was being used by all the Hollywood stars already, but in
Europe it was still quite unknown. If he could find half a
dozen actresses to use and recommend it, they should have
free sample jars and permanent supplies at half-price.
After a moment's hesitation, I gave him Sally's address. I
don't know quite why I did it. Partly, of course, to get rid of
the young man, who showed signs of wishing to sit down
again and continue our conversation. Partly, perhaps, out of
malice. It would do Sally no harm to have to put up with his
chatter for an hour or two : she had told me that she liked men
with ambition. Perhaps she would even get a jar of the face-
cream - if it existed at all. And if he touched her for the
74 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
two hundred marks - well, that wouldn't matter so very much,
either. He couldn't deceive a baby.
*But whatever you do,' I warned him, *don't say that I sent
He agreed to this at once, with a slight smile. He must have
had his own explanation of my request, for he didn't appear to
find it in the least strange. He raised his hat politely as he
went downstairs. By the next morning, I had forgotten about
his visit altogether.
A few days later, Sally herself rang me up. I had been
called away in the middle of a lesson to answer the telephone
and was very ungracious.
'Oh, is that you, Christopher darling?'
Tes. It's me.'
*I say, can you come round and see me at once?'
*0h . . .' My refusal evidently gave Sally a shock. There
was a little pause, then she countinued, in a tone of unwonted
humility: *I suppose you're most terribly busy?'
Tes. I am.'
'Well . . . would you naind frightfully if I came round to
'Darling' - Sally sounded positively desperate - 'I can't
possibly explain to you over the telephone . . . It's something
*0h, I see' - I tried to make this as nasty as possible -
'another magazine article, I suppose?'
Nevertheless, as soon as I'd said, we both had to laugh.
'Chris, you are a brute ! ' Sally tinkled gaily along the wire :
then checked herself abruptly: 'No, darling - this time I
promise you : it's most terribly serious, really and truly it is.'
She paused; then impressively added: 'And you're the only
person who can possibly help.'
'Oh, all right . . .' I was more than half melted already.
*Come in an hour.'
SALLY BOWLES 75
Well, darling, I'll begin at the very beginning, shall I? . . .
Yesterday morning, a man rang me up and asked if he could
come round and see me. He said it was on very important
business; and as he seemed to know my name and everything
of course I said : Yes, certainly, come at once ... So he came.
He told me his name was Rakowski - Paul Rakowski - and
that he was a European agent of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and
that he'd come to make me an offer. He said they were
looking out for an English actress who spoke German to act
in a comedy film they were going to shoot on the Italian
Riviera. He was most frightfully convincing about it all; he
told me who the director was and the camera-man and the
art-director and who'd written the script. Naturally, I hadn't
heard of any of them before. But that didn't seem so surpris-
ing : in fact, it really made it sound much more real, because
most people would have chosen one of the names you see in
the newspapers . . . Anyhow, he said that, now he'd seen me,
he was sure I'd be just the person for the part, and he could
practically promise it to me, as long as the test was all right . . ..
so of course I was simply thrilled and I asked when the test
would be and he said not for a day or two, as he had to make
arrangements with the Ufa people ... So then we began to
talk about Hollywood and he told me all kinds of stories - I
suppose they could have been things he'd read in fan maga-
zines, but somehow I'm pretty sure they weren't - and then
he told me how they make sound-effects and how they do the
trick-work; he was really most awfully interesting and he
certainly must have been inside a great many studios . . .
Anyhow, when we'd finished talking about Hollywood, he
started to tell me about the rest of America and the people
he knew, and about the gangsters and about New York. He
said he'd only just arrived from there and all his luggage was
still in the customs at Hamburg. As a matter of fact, I had
been thinking to myself that it seemed rather queer he was
so shabbily dressed; but after he said that, of course, I thought
it was quite natural . . . Well - now you must promise not to
laugh at this part of the story, Chris, or I simply shan't be able
to tell you - presently he started making the most passionate
76 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
love to me. At first I was rather angry with him, for sort of
mixing business with pleasure; but then, after a bit, I didn't
mind so much : he was quite attractive, in a Russian kind of
way . . . And the end of it was, he invited me to have dinner
widi him; so we went to Horcher's and had one of the most
marvellous dinners I've ever had in my life (that's one consola-
tion); only, when the bill came, he said "Oh, by the way,
darling, could you lend me three hundred marks until to-
morrow? I've only got dollar bills on me, and I'll have to
get them changed at the Bank." So, of course, I gave them
to him : as bad luck would have it, I had quite a lot of money
on me, that evening . . . And then he said : *Let's have a bottle
of champagne to celebrate your film contract.' So I agreed,
and I suppose by that time I must have been pretty tight
because when he asked me to spend the night with him, I
said Yes. We went to one of those little hotels in the Augs-
burgerstrasse - I forget its name, but I can find it again,
easily ... It was the most ghastly hole . . . Anyhow, I don't
remember much more about what happened that evening. It
was early this morning that I started to think about things
properly, while he was still asleep; and I began to wonder
if everything was really quite all right ... I hadn't noticed
his underclothes before : they gave me a bit of a shock. You'd
expect an important film man to wear silk next his skin,
wouldn't you? Well, his were the most extraordinary kind of
stuff like camelhair or something; they looked as if they
might have belonged to John the Baptist. And then he had a
regular Woolworth's tin clip for his tie. It wasn't so much that
his things were shabby; but you could see they'd never been
any good, even when they were new ... I was just making up
my mind to get out of bed and take a look inside his pockets,
when he woke up and it was too late. So we ordered break-
fast ... I don't know if he thought I was madly in love with
him by this time and wouldn't notice, or whether he just
couldn't be bothered to go on pretending, but this morning
he was Uke a completely different person - just a common
little guttersnipe. He ate his jam off the blade of his knife,
and of course most of it went on the the sheets. And he sucked
SALLY BOWLES 77
the insides out of the eggs with a most terrific squelching
noise. I couldn't help laughing at him, and that made him
quite cross . . . Then he said : "I must have beer ! " Well, I
said, all right; ring down to the office and ask for some. To
tell you the truth, I was beginning to be a bit frightened of
him. He'd started to scowl in the most cavemaimish way; I felt
sure he must be mad. So I thought I'd humour him as much
as I could . . . Anyhow, he seemed to think I'd made quite
a good suggestion, and he picked up the telephone and
had a long conversation and got awfully angry, because he
said they refused to send beer up to the rooms. I realize now
that he must have been holding the hook all the time and
just acting; but he did it most awfully well, and anyhow I
was much too scared to notice things much. I thought he'd
probably start murdering me because he couldn't get his beer
. . . However, he took it quite quietly. He said he must get
dressed and go downstairs and fetch it himself. All right, I
said . . . Well, I waited and waited and he didn't come back.
So at last I rang the bell and asked the maid if she'd seen
him go out. And she said : "Oh yes, the gentleman paid the
bill and went away about an hour ago. ... He said you weren't
to be disturbed." I was so surprised, I just said : "Oh, right,
thanks . . ." The funny thing was, I'd so absolutely made up
my mind by this time that he was a looney that I'd stopped
suspecting him of being a swindler. Perhaps that was what he
wanted . . . Anyhow, he wasn't such a looney, after all, be-
cause, when I looked in my bag, I found he'd helped himself
to all the rest of my money, as well as the change from the
three hundred marks I'd lent him the night before . . . What
really annoys me about the whole business is that I bet he
thinks I'll be ashamed to go to the police. Well, I'll just
show him he's wrong — '
*I say, Sally, what exactly did this yoimg man look
*He was about your height. Pale. Dark. You could tell he
wasn't a bom American; he spoke with a foreign accent — '
*Can you remember if he mentioned a man named Schraube,
who lives in Chicago?'
78 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
*Let's see ... Yes, of course he did ! He talked about him
a lot . . . But, Chris, how on earth did you know?'
'Well, it's like this . . . Look here, Sally, I've got a most
awful confession to make to you ... I don't know if you'll
ever forgive me . . .'
We went to the Alexanderplatz that same afternoon.
The interview was even more embarrassing than I had
expected. For myself at any rate. Sally, if she felt uncomfort-
able, did not show it by so much as the movement of an eyelid.
She detailed the facts of the case to the two bespectacled
police officials with such brisk bright matter-of-factness that
one might have supposed she had come to complain about a
strayed lapdog or an umbrella lost in a bus. The two officials -
both obviously fathers of families - were at first inclined to
be shocked. They dipped their pens excessively in the violet
ink, made nervous inhibited circular movements with their
elbows before beginning to write, and were very curt and
*Now about this hotel,' said the elder of them sternly: 1
suppose you knew, before going there, that it was an hotel of
a certain kind?'
*Well, you didn't expect us to go to the Bristol, did you?'
Sally's tone was very mild and reasonable : 'They wouldn't
have let us in there without luggage, anyway.'
*Ah, so you had no luggage?' The younger one pounced
upon this fact triumphantly, as of supreme importance. His
violet copperplate policehand began to travel steadily across
a ruled sheet of foolscap paper. Deeply inspired by his theme,
he paid not the slightest attention to Sally's retort :
'I don't usually pack a suitcase when a man asks me out to
The elder one caught the point, however, at once :
'So it wasn't till you were at the restaurant that this young
man invited you to - er - accompany him to the hotel?'
'It wasn't till after dinner.'
'My dear young lady,' the elder one sat back in his chair.
SALLY BOWLES 79
very much the sarcastic father, *may I enquire whether it is
your usual custom to accept invitations of this kind from
Sally smiled sweetly. She was innocence and candour
*But, you see, Herr Kommissar, he wasn't a perfect stranger.
He was my fiance.'
That made both of them sit up with a jerk. The younger
one even made a small blot in the middle of his virgin page -
the only blot, perhaps to be found in all the spotless dossiers
of the Polizeiprasidium.
'You mean to tell me, Frl. Bowles' - but in spite of his
gruffness, there was already a gleam in the elder one's eye -
*You mean to tell me that you became engaged to this man
when you'd only known him a single afternoon?'
'Isn't that, well - rather unusual?'
'I suppose it is,' Sally seriously agreed. 'But nowadays,
you know, a girl can't afford to keep a man waiting. If he
asks her once and she refuses him, he may try somebody else.
It's all these surplus women — '
At this, the elder ofl&cial frankly exploded. Pushing back
his chair, he laughed himself quite purple in the face. It was
nearly a minute before he could speak at all. The young
one was much more decorous; he produced a large handker-
chief and pretended to blow his nose. But the nose-blowing
developed into a kind of sneeze which became a guffaw; and
soon he too had abandoned all attempt to take Sally seriously.
The rest of the interview was conducted with comic-opera
informality, accompanied by ponderous essays in gallantry.
The elder official, particularly, became quite daring; I think
they were both sorry that I was present. They wanted her to
'Now don't you worry, Frl. Bowles,' they told her, patting
her hand at parting, 'we'll find him for you, if we have to
turn Berlin inside out to do it!'
'Well!' I exclaimed admiringly, as soon as we were out
80 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
of earshot, *you do know how to handle them, I must say ! '
Sally smiled dreamily: she was feeling very pleased with
herself: *How do you mean, exactly, darling?'
Tou know as well as I do - getting them to laugh like
that : telling them he was your fiance ! It was really inspired ! '
But Sally didn't laugh. Instead, she coloured a little, look-
ing down at her feet. A comically guilty, childish expression
came over her face :
*You see, Chris, it happened to be quite true — '
*Yes, darling.' Now, for the first time, Sally was really
embarrassed : she began speaking very fast : '1 simply couldn't
tell you this morning: after everything that's happened, it
would have sounded too idiotic for words ... He asked me to
marry him while we were at the restaurant, and I said Yes . . .
You see, I thought that, being in films, he was probably quite
used to quick engagements, like that : after all, in Hollywood,
it's quite the usual thing . . . And, as he was an American, I
thought we could get divorced again easily, any time we
wanted to . . . And it would have been a good thing for my
career - I mean, if he'd been genuine - wouldn't it? ... We
were to have got married to-day, if it could have been
managed ... It seems funny to think of, now — '
*But Sally!' I stood still. I gaped at her. I had to laugh:
*Well really . . . You know, you're the most extraordinary
creature I ever met in my life ! '
Sally giggled a little, like a naughty child which has un-
intentionally succeeded in amusing the grown-ups :
*I always told you I was a bit mad, didn't I? Now perhaps
you'll believe it — '
It was more than a week before the police could give us any
news. Then, one morning, two detectives called to see me. A
young man answering to our description had been traced and
was under observation. The police knew his address, but
wanted me to identify him before making the arrest. Would
I come round with them at once to a snack-bar in the Kleist-
strasse? He was to be seen there, about this time, almost
SALLY BOWLES 8 1
every day. I should be able to point him out to them in the
crowd and leave again at once, without any fuss or impleasant-
I didn't like the idea much, but there was no getting out of
it now. The snack-bar, when we arrived, was crowded, for
this was the lunch-hour. I caught sight of the young man
almost immediately : he was standing at the counter, by the
tea-urn, cup in hand. Seen thus, alone and off his guard, he
seemed rather pathetic : he looked shabbier and far younger
- a mere boy. I very nearly said: *He isn't here.' But what
would have been the use? They'd have got him, anyway. *Yes,
diat's him.' I told the detectives. *Over there.' They nodded.
I turned and hurried away down the street, feeling guilty and
telling myself ; I'll never help the police again.
A few days later, Sally came round to tell me the rest of
the story : *I had to see him, of course ... I felt an awful brute;
he looked so wretched. All he said was : "I thought you were
my friend.' I'd have told him he could keep the money, but
he'd spent it all, anyway . . . The police said he really had been
to the States, but he isn't American; he's a Pole ... He won't
be prosecuted, that's one comfort. The doctor's seen him and
he's going to be sent to a home. I hope they treat him decently
there . . .'
*So he was a looney, after all?'
*I suppose so. A sort of mild one . . .' Sally smiled. *Not
very flattering to me, is it? Oh, and Chris, do you know how
old he was? You'd never guess ! '
*Round about twenty, I should think.'
Tes, honestly . . . The case would have to have been tried
in the CMdren's Court!'
We both laughed. 'You know, Sally,' I said, *what I really
like about you is that you're so awfully easy to take in. People
who never get taken in are so dreary.'
*So you still like me, Chris darling?'
Tes, Sally. I still like you.'
82 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
*I was afraid you'd be angry with me - about the other
*I was. Very.'
*But you're not, now?'
*No ... I don't think so.'
It's no good my trying to apologize, or explain, or any-
thing ... I get like that, sometimes ... I expect you under-
stand, don't you, Chris?'
Tes,' I said. *I expect I do.'
I have never seen her since. About a fortnight later, just
when I was thinking I ought really to ring her up, I got a
post-card from Paris: 'Arrived here last night. Will write
properly to-morrow. Heaps of love.' No letter followed. A
month after this, another post-card arrived from Rome, giving
no address : *Am writing in a day or two,' it said. That was six
So now I am writing to her.
When you read this, Sally - if you ever do - please accept
it as a tribute, the sincerest I can pay, to yourself and to our
And send me another post-card.
ON RUEGEN ISLAND
I wake early and go out to sit on the verandah in my pyjamas.
The wood casts long shadows over the fields. Birds call with
sudden -uncanny violence, like alarm-clocks going off. The
birch-trees hang down laden over the rutted, sandy earth of
the country road. A soft bar of cloud is moving up from the
line of trees along the lake. A man with a bicycle is watching
his horse graze on a patch of grass by the path; he wants to
disentangle the horse's hoof from its tether-rope. He pushes
the horse with both hands, but it won't budge. And now an old
woman in a shawl comes walking with a Uttle boy. The boy
wears a dark sailor suit; he is very pale and his neck is ban-
daged. They soon turn back. A man passes on a bicycle and
shouts something to the man with the horse. His voice rings
out, quite clear yet unintelligible, in the morning stillness. A
cock crows. The creak of the bicycle, going past. The dew on
the white table and chairs in the garden arbour, and dripping
from the heavy lilac. Another cock crows, much louder and
nearer. And I tidnk I can hear the sea, or very distant bells.
The village is hidden in the woods, away up to the left. It
consists almost entirely of boarding-houses, in various styles
of seaside architecture - sham Moorish, old Bavarian, Taj
Mahal, and the rococo doll's house, with white fretwork bal-
conies. Behind the woods is the sea. You can reach it without
going through the village, by a zig-zag path, which brings
you out abruptly to the edge of some sandy cliffs, with the
beach below you, and the tepid shallow Baltic lying almost
at your feet. This end of the bay is quite deserted; the ofl&cial
bathing-beach is round the corner of the headland. The white
onion-domes of the Strand Restaurant at Baabe wobble in the
distance, behind fluid waves of heat, a kilometre away.
In the wood are rabbits and adders and deer. Yesterday
morning I saw a roe being chased by a Borzoi dog, right across
84 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
the fields and in amongst the trees. The dog couldn't catch the
roe, although it seemed to be going much the faster of the
two, moving in long graceful bounds, while the roe went
bucketing over the earth with wild rigid jerks, like a grand
There are two people staying in this house, besides myself.
One of them is an Englishman, named Peter Wilkinson,
about my own age. The other is a German working-class boy
from Berlin, named Otto Nowak. He is sixteen or seventeen
Peter - as I already call him; we got rather tight the first
evening, and quickly made friends - is thin and dark and ner-
vous. He wears horn-rinmied glasses. When he gets excited, he
digs his hands down between his knees and clenches them to-
gether. Thick veins stand out at the sides of his temples. He
trembles all over with suppressed, nervous laughter, until Otto,
rather irritated, exclaims : 'Mensch, reg' Dich bloss nicht so
Otto has a face Hke a very ripe peach. His hair is fair and
thick, growing low on his forehead. He has small sparkling eyes,
full of naughtiness, and a wide, disarming grin, which is much
too innocent to be true. When he grins, two large dimples
appear in his peach-bloom cheeks. At present, he makes up to
me assiduously, flattering me, laughing at my jokes, never miss-
ing an opportunity of giving me a crafty, understanding wink.
I think he looks upon me as a potential ally in his dealings
This morning we all bathed together. Peter and Otto are
busy building a large sand fort. I lay and watched Peter as he
worked furiously, enjoying the glare, digging away savagely
with his child's spade, like a chain-gang convict under the eyes
of an armed warder. Throughout the long, hot morning, he
never sat still for a moment. He and Otto swam, dug, wrestled,
ran races or played with a rubber football, up and down the
sands. Peter is skinny but wiry. In his games with Otto, he
holds his own, it seems, only by an immense, furious effort of
will. It is Peter's will against Otto's body. Otto is his whole
body; Peter is only his head. Otto moves fluidly, effortlessly;
ON RUEGEN ISLAND 85
his gestures have the savage, unconscious grace of a cruel,
elegant animal. Peter drives himself about, lashing his stiff,
ungraceful body with the whip of his merciless will.
Otto is outrageously conceited. Peter has bought him a
chest-expander, and, with this, he exercises solemnly at all
hours of the day. Coming into their bedroom, after lunch, to
look for Peter, I found (Dtto wrestUng with the expander like
Laocoon, in front of the looking-glass, all alone : *Look, Chris-
toph ! ' he gasped. *You see, I can do it! All five strands ! ' Otto
certainly has a superb pair of shoulders and chest for a boy of
his age - but his body is nevertheless somehow slightly ridicu-
lous. The beautiful ripe lines of the torso taper away too sud-
denly to his rather absurd Httle buttocks and spindly, immature
legs. And these struggles with the chest-expander are daily
making him more and more top-heavy.
This evening Otto had a touch of sunstroke, and went to
bed early, with a headache. Peter and I walked up to the village,
alone. In the Bavarian cafe, where the band makes a noise like
Hell unchained, Peter bawled into my ear the story of his life.
Peter is the youngest of a family of four. He has two sisters,
both married. One of the sisters lives in the country and hunts.
The other is what the newspapers call * a popular society host-
ess.' Peter's elder brother is a scientist and explorer. He has
been on expeditions to the Congo, the New Hebrides and the
Great Barrier Reef. He plays chess, speaks with the voice of a
man of sixty, and has never, to the best of Peter's belief, per-
formed the sexual act. The only member of the family with
whom Peter is at present on speaking terms is his hunting
sister, but they seldom meet, because Peter hates his brother-
Peter was delicate, as a boy. He did not go to a preparatory
school but, when he was thirteen, his father sent him to a pubHc
school. His father and mother had a row about this which lasted
until Peter, with his mother's encouragement, developed heart
trouble and had to be removed at the end of his second term.
Once escaped, Peter began to hate his mother for having petted
and coddled him into a funk. She saw that he could not forgive
86 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
her and so^ as Peter was the only one of her children whom she
cared for, she got ill herself and soon afterwards died.
It was too late to send Peter back to school again, so Mr
Wilkinson engaged a tutor. The tutor was a very high-church
young man who intended to become a priest. He took cold
baths in winter and had crimpy hair and a Grecian jaw. Mr
Wilkinson disliked him from the first, and the elder brother
made satirical remarks, so Peter threw himself passionately
on to the tutor's side. The two of them went for walking-tours
in the Lake District and discussed the meaning of the Sacra-
ment amidst austere moorland scenery. This kind of talk got
them, inevitably, into a complicated emotional tangle which
was abruptly unravelled, one evening, during a fearful row in a
barn. Next morning, the tutor left, leaving a ten-page letter be-
hind him. Peter meditated suicide. He heard later indirectly
that the tutor had grown a moustache and gone out to Austra-
lia. So Peter got another tutor, and finally went up to Oxford.
Hating his father's business and his brother's science, he
made music and literature into a religious cult. For the first
year, he liked Oxford very much indeed. He went out to tea
parties and ventured to talk. To his pleasure and surprise,
people appeared to be listening to what he said. It wasn't until
he had done this often that he began to notice their air of sUght
embarrassment. 'Somehow or other,' said Peter, *I always struck
the wrong note.'
Meanwhile, at home, in the big Mayfair house, with its four
bath-rooms and garage for three cars, where there was always
too much to eat, the Wilkinson family was slowly falling to
pieces, like something gone rotten. Mr Wilkinson with his
diseased kidneys, his whisky, and his knowledge of 'handling
men,' was angry and confused and a bit pathetic. He snapped
and growled at his children when they passed near him, like a
surly old dog. At meals nobody ever spoke. They avoided each
other's eyes, and hurried upstairs afterwards to write letters,
full of hatred and satire, to their intimate friends. Only Peter
had no friend to write to. He shut himself up in his tasteless,
expensive bedroom and read and read.
And now it was the same at Oxford. Peter no longer went
ON RUEGEN ISLAND 87
to tea-parties. He worked all day, and, just before the exam-
inations, he had a nervous breakdown. The doctor advised a
complete change of scene, other interests. Peter's father let
him play at farming for six months in Devonshire, then he be-
gan to talk of the business. Mr Wilkinson had been unable to
persuade any of his other children to take even a polite interest
in the source of their incomes. They were all unassailable in
their different worlds. One of his daughters was about to marry
into the peerage, the other frequently hunted with the Prince
of Wales. His elder son read papers to the Royal Geographical
Society. Only Peter hadn't any justification for his existence.
The other children behaved selfishly, but knew what they
wanted. Peter also behaved selfishly, and didn't know.
However, at the critical moment, Peter's uncle, his mother's
brother, died. This uncle lived in Canada. He had seen Peter
once as a diild and had taken a fancy to him, so he left him
all his money, not very much but enough to live on, comfort-
Peter went to Paris and began studying music. His teacher
told him that he would never be more than a good second-rate
amateur, but he only worked all the harder. He worked merely
to avoid thinking, and had another nervous breakdown, less
serious than at first. At this time, he was comdnced that he
would soon go mad. He paid a visit to London and found only
his father at home. They had a furious quarrel on the first
evening; thereafter, they hardly exchanged a word. After a
week of silence and huge meals, Peter had a mild attack oi
homicidal mania. All through breakfast, he couldn't take his
eyes off a pimple on his father's throat. He was fingering the
bread-knife. Suddenly the left side of his face began to twitch.
It twitched and twitched, so that he had to cover his cheek with
his hand. He felt certain that his father had noticed this, and
was intentionally refusing to remark on it - was, in fact, de-
liberately torturing him. At last, Peter could stand it no longer.
He jumped up and rushed out of the room, out of the house,
into the garden, where he flung himself face downwards on the
wet lawn. There he lay, too frightened to move. After a quarter
of an hour, the twitching stopped.
88 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
That evening Peter walked along Regent Street and picked
up a whore. They went back together to the girl's room, and
talked for hours. He told her the whole story of his Ufe at home,
gave her ten pounds and left her without even kissing her.
Next morning a mysterious rash appeared on his left thigh.
The doctor seemed at a loss to explain its origin, but prescribed
some ointment. The rash became fainter, but did not altogether
disappear until last month. Soon after the Regent Street epi-
sode, Peter also began to have trouble with his left eye.-
For some time already, he had played with the idea of con-
sulting a psychoanalyst. His final choice was an orthodox
Freudian with a sleepy, ill-tempered voice and very large feet.
Peter took an immediate dislike to him, and told him so. The
Freudian made notes on a piece of paper, but did not seem
offended. Peter later discovered that he was quite uninter-
ested in anything except Chinese art. They met three times a
week, and each visit cost two guineas.
After six months Peter abandoned the Freudian, and started
going to a new analyst, a Finnish lady with white hair and a
bright conversational maimer. Peter found her easy to talk to.
He told her, to the best of his ability, everything he had ever
done, ever said, ever thought, or ever dreamed. Sometimes, in
moments of discouragement, he told her stories which were
absolutely untrue, or anecdotes collected from case-books.
Afterwards, he would confess to these Ues, and they would dis-
cuss his motives for telling them, and agree that they were
very interesting. On red-letter nights Peter would have a
dream, and this gave them a topic of conversation for the next
few weeks. The analysis lasted nearly two years, and was never
This year Peter got bored with the Finnish lady. He heard
of a good man in Berlin. Well, why not? At any rate, it would
be a change. It was also an economy. The BerUn man only
cost fifteen marks a visit.
*And you're still going to him?' I asked.
*No . . .' Peter smiled. *I can't afford to, you see,'
Last month, a day or two after his arrival, Peter went out
to Wannsee, to bathe. The water was still chilly, and there were
ON RUEGEN ISLAND 89
not many people about. Peter had noticed a boy who was turn-
ing somersaults by himself, on the sand. Later the boy came
up and asked him for a match. They got into conversation. It
was Otto Nowak.
*Otto was quite horrified when I told him about the analyst.
"What ! " he said, "you give that man fifteen marks a day just
for letting you talk to him! You give me ten marks and I'll
talk to you all day, and all night as well ! " ' Peter began to shake
all over with laughter, flushing scarlet and wringing his hands.
Curiously enough. Otto wasn't being altogether preposterous
when he offered to take the analyst's place. Like many very
animal people, he has considerable instinctive powers of heal-
ing - when he chooses to use them. At such times, his treat-
ment of Peter is unerringly correct. Peter will be sitting at the
table, hunched up, his downward-curving mouth lined with
childhood fears : a perfect case-picture of his twisted, expensive
upbringing. Then in comes Otto, grins, dimples, knocks over
a chair, slaps Peter on the back, rubs his hands and exclaims
fatuously : 'Ja, ja,,. so ist die Sache!' And, in a moment, Peter
is transformed. He relaxes, begins to hold himself naturally;
the tightness disappears from his mouth, his eyes lose their
hunted look. As long as the spell lasts, he is just like an ordin-
Peter tells me that, before he met Otto, he was so terrified
of infection that he would wash his hands with carbolic after
picking up a cat. Nowadays, he often drinks out of the same
glass as Otto, uses his sponge, and will share the same plate.
Dancing has begun at the Kurhaus and the cafe on the lake.
We saw the announcements of the first dance two days ago,
while we were taking our evening walk up the main street of
the village. I noticed that Otto glanced at the poster wistfully,
and that Peter had seen him do this. Neither of them, however,
made any comment.
Yesterday was chilly and wet. Otto suggested that we should
hire a boat and go fishing on the lake : Peter was pleased with
diis plan, and agreed at once. But when we had waited three
quarters of an hour in the drizzle for a catch, he began to get
90 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
irritable. On the way back to the shore, Otto kept splashing
with his oars - at first because he couldn't row properly, later
merely to annoy Peter. Peter got very angry indeed, and swore
at Otto, who sulked.
After supper, Otto announced that he was going to dance
at the Kurhaus. Peter took this without a word, in ominous
silence, the corners of his mouth beginning to drop; and Otto,
either genuinely unconscious of his disapproval or deliberately
overlooking it, assumed that the matter was settled.
After he had gone out, Peter and I sat upstairs in my cold
room, listening to the pattering of the rain on the window:
*I though it couldn't last,' said Peter gloomily. 'This is the
beginning. You'll see.'
*Nonsense, Peter. The beginning of what? It's quite natural
that Otto should want to dance sometimes. You mustn't be so
*0h, I know, I know. As usual, I'm being utterly unreason-
able . . . All the same, this is the beginning . . .'
Rather to my own surprise the event proved me right. Otto
arrived back from the Kurhaus before ten o'clock. He had been
disappointed. There had been very few people there, and the
band was poor :
I'll never go again,' he added, with a languishing smile at
me. Trom now on I'll stay every evening with you and
Chistoph. It's much more fun when we're all three together,
Yesterday morning, while we were lying in our fort on the
beach, a little fair-haired man with ferrety blue eyes and a
small moustache came up to us and asked us to join in a game
with him. Otto, always over-enthusiastic about strangers,
accepted at once, so that Peter and I had either to be rude or
follow his example.
The little man, after introducing himself as a surgeon from a
Berlin hospital, at once took command, assigning to us the
places where we were to stand. He was very firm about this -
instantly ordering me back when I attempted to edge a little
nearer, so as not to have such a long distance to throw. Then
ON RUEGEN ISLAND 9I
it appeared that Peter was throwing in quite the wrong way :
the little doctor stopped the game in order to demonstrate this.
Peter was amused at first, and then rather annoyed. He re-
torted with considerable rudeness, but the doctor's skin wasn't
pierced. *You hold yourself so stiff,' he explained, smiling.
*That is an error. You should relax completely - like this - you
understand? Now try again, and I will keep my hand on your
shoulder-blade to see whether you really relax . . . No, Again
you do not ! '
He seemed delighted, as if this failure of Peter's were a
special triumph for his own methods of teaching. His eye met
Otto's. Otto grinned understandingly.
Our meeting with the doctor put Peter in a bad temper for
the rest of the day. In order to tease him. Otto pretended to like
the doctor very much : That's the sort of chap I'd like to have
for a friend,' he said with a spiteful smile. *A real sportsman !
You ought to take up sport, Peter ! Then you'd have a figure
like he has ! '
Had Peter been in another mood, this remark would prob-
ably have made him smile. As it was, he got very angry : *You'd
better go off with your doctor now, if you Uke him so much ! '
Otto grinned teasingly. *He hasn't asked me to - yet ! '
Yesterday evening. Otto went out to dance at the Kurhaus
and didn't return till late.
There are now a good many summer visitors to the village.
The bathing-beach by the pier, with its array of banners,
begins to look like a mediaeval camp. Each family has its own
enormous hooded wicker beach-chair, and each chair flies a
little flag. There are the German city-flags - Hamburg, Han-
over, Dresden, Rostock and Berlin, as well as the National,
Republican and Nazi colours. Each chair is encircled by a low
sand bulwark upon which the occupants have set inscriptions in
fircones : Waldesruh. Familie Walter. Stahlhelm. Heil Hitler!
Many of the forts are also decorated with the Nazi swastika.
The other morning I saw a child of about five years old, stark
naked, marching along all by himself with a swastika flag over
his shoulder and singing ^Deutschland iiber dies/
92 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
The little doctor fairly revels in this atmosphere. Nearly
every morning he arrives, on a missionary visit, to our fort.
*You really ought to come round to the other beach,' he tells
us. It's much more amusing there. I'd introduce you to some
nice girls. The young people here are a magnificent lot! I, as a
doctor, know how to appreciate them. The other day I was over
at Hiddensee. Nothing but Jews! It's a pleasure to get back
here and see real Nordic types ! '
Xet's go to the other beach,' urged Otto. *It's so dull here.
There's hardly anyone about.'
'You can go if you like,' Peter retorted with angry sarcasm :
I'm afraid I should be rather out of place. I had a grand-
mother who was partly Spanish.'
But the Uttle doctor won't let us alone. Our opposition and
more or less openly expressed dislike seem actually to fascinate
him. Otto is always betraying us into his hands. One day, when
the doctor was speaking enthusiastically about Hitler, Otto
said, *It's no good your talking like that to Christoph, Herr
Doktor. He's a communist ! '
This seemed positively to delight the doctor. His ferrety blue
eyes gleamed with triumph. He laid his hand affectionately
on my shoulder.
*But you can't be a communist ! You can't I '
*Why can't I?' I asked coldly, moving away. I hate him to
'Because there isn't any such thing as communism. It's just
an hallucination. A mental disease. People only imagine that
they're communists. They aren't really.'
'What are they, then?'
But he wasn't listening. He fixed me with his triumphant,
'Five years ago I used to think as you do. But my work at
the clinic has convinced me that communism is a mere halluc-
ination. What people need is discipline, self-control. I can tell
you this as a doctor. I know it from my own experience.'
This morning we were all together in my room, ready to
start out to bathe. The atmosphere was electric, because Peter
ON RUEGEN ISLAND 93
and Otto were still carrying on an obscure quarrel which they
had begun before breakfast, in their own bedroom. I was turn-
ing over the pages of a book, not paying much attention to
them. Suddenly Peter slapped Otto hard on both cheeks. They
closed immediately and staggered grappling about the room,
knocking over the chairs. I looked on, getting out of their way
as well as I could. It was funny, and, at the same time, un-
pleasant, because rage made their faces strange and ugly. Pre-
sently Otto got Peter down on the ground and began twisting
his arm : *Have you had enough?' he kept asking. He grinned :
at that moment he was really hideous, positively deformed
with malice. I knew that Otto was glad to have me there, be-
cause my presence was an extra humiliation for Peter. So I
laughed, as though the whole thing were a joke, and went out
of the room. I walked through the woods to Baabe, and
bathed from the beach beyond. I felt I didn't want to see
either of them again for several hours.
If Otto wishes to humiliate Peter, Peter in his different way,
also wishes to humiliate Otto. He wants to force Otto into
making a certain kind of submission to his will, and this sub-
mission Otto refuses instinctively to make. Otto is naturally
and healthily selfish, like an animal. If there are two chairs in a
room, he will take the more comfortable one without hesitation,
because it never even occurs to him to consider Peter's comfort.
Peter's selfishness is much less honest, more civilised, more
perverse. Appealed to in the right way, he will make and sacri-
fice, however unreasonable and unnecessary. But when Otto
takes the better chair as if by right, then Peter immediately
sees a challenge which he dare not refuse to accept. I suppose
that - given their two natures - there is no possible escape
from this situation. Peter is bound to go on fighting to win
Otto's submission. When, at last, he ceases to do so, it will
merely mean that he has lost interest in Otto altogether.
The really destructive feature of their relationship is its
inherent quality of boredom. It is quite natural for Peter often
to feel bored with Otto - they have scarcely a single interest
in common - but Peter, for sentimental reasons, will never
admit that this is so. When Otto, who has no such motives for
94 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
pretending, says. *It's so dull here ! ' I invariably see Peter wince
and look pained. Yet Otto is actually far less often bored than
Peter himself; he finds Peter's company genuinely amusing,
and is quite glad to be with him most of the day. Often, when
Otto has been chattering rubbish for an hour without stopping,
I can see that Peter really longs for him to be quiet and go
away. But to admit this would be, in Peter's eyes, a total defeat,
so he only laughs and rubs his hands, tacitly appealing to me to
support him in his pretence of finding Otto inexhaustibly de-
lightful and funny.
On our way back through the woods, after my bathe, I saw
the ferrety little blond doctor advancing to meet me. It was too
late to turn back. I said *Good Morning' as poHtely and coldly
as possible. The doctor was dressed in running-shorts and a
sweater; he explained that he had been taking a Waldlauf.^ 'But
I think I shall turn back now,' he added. Wouldn't you like to
run with me a Uttle?'
I'm afraid I can't,' I said rashly, *you see, I twisted my ankle
a bit yesterday.'
I could have bitten my tongue out as I saw the gleam of tri-
umph in his eyes. *Ah, you've sprained your ankle? Please let
me look at it ! ' Squirming with dislike, I had to submit to his
prodding fingers. *But it is nothing, I assure you. You have no
cause for alarm.'
As we walked the doctor began to question me about Peter
and Otto, twisting his head to look up at me, as he deUvered
each sharp, inquisitive Uttle thrust. He was fairly consumed
*My work in the clinic has taught me that it is no use trying
to help this type of boy. Your friend is very generous and very
well meaning, but he makes a great mistake. This type of boy
always reverts. From a scientific point of view, I find him ex-
As though he were about to say something specially momen-
tous, the doctor suddenly stood still in the middle of the path,
paused a moment to engage my attention, and smilingly an-
ON RUEGEN ISLAND 95
*He has a criminal head ! '
*And you think that people with criminal heads should be
left to become criminals?'
^Certainly not. I believe in discipline. These boys ought to
be put into labour-camps.'
*And what are you going to do with them when you've got
them there? You say that they can't be altered, anyhow, so
I suppose you'd keep them locked up for the rest of their lives?'
The doctor laughed delightedly, as though this were a joke
against himself which he could, nevertheless, appreciate. He
laid a caressing hand on my arm :
*You are an idealist I Do not imagine that I don't imderstand
your point of view. But it is unscientific, quite unscientific. You
and your friend do not understand such boys as Otto. I under-
stand them. Every week, one or two such boys come to my
clinic, and I must operate on them for adenoids, or mastoid, or
poisoned tonsils. So, you see, I know them through and
through ! '
*I should have thought it would be more accurate to say you
knew their throats and ears.'
Perhaps my German wasn't quite equal to rendering the
sense of this last remark. At all events, the doctor ignored it
completely. 1 know this type of boy very well,' he repeated,
*It is a bad degenerate type. You cannot make anything out
of these boys. Their tonsils are almost invariably diseased.'
There are perpetual little rows going on between Peter and
Otto, yet I cannot say that I find living with them actually un-
pleasant. Just now, I am very much taken up with my new
novel. Thinking about it, I often go out for long walks, alone.
Indeed, I find myself making more and more frequent excuses
to leave them to themselves; and this is selfish, because, when
I am with them, I can often choke off the beginnings of a
quarrel by changing the subject or making a joke. Peter, I
know, resents my desertions. *You're quite an ascetic,' he said
maliciously the other day, 'always wididrawing for your con-
templations.' Once, when I was sitting in a cafe near the pier.
96 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
listening to the band, Peter and Otto came past. *So this is
where you've been hiding!' Peter exclaimed. I saw that, for
the moment, he really disliked me.
One evening, we were all walking up the main street, which
was crowded with summer visitors. Otto said to Peter, with his
most spiteful grin : *Why must you always look in the same
direction as I do?' This was surprisingly acute, for, whenever
Otto turned his head to stare at a girl, Peter's eyes mechanically
followed his glance with instinctive jealousy. We passed the
photographer's window, in which, every day, the latest groups
snapped by the beach camera-men are displayed. Otto paused
to examine one of the new pictures with great attention, as
though its subject were particularly attractive. I saw Peter's
lips contract. He was struggling with himself, but he couldn't
resist his own jealous curiosity - he stopped too. The photo-
graph was of a fat old man with a long beard, waving a Berlin
flag. Otto, seeing that his trap had been successful, laughed
Invariably, after supper. Otto goes dancing at the Kurhaus
or the cafe by the lake. He no longer bothers to ask Peter's
permission to do this; he has established the right to have his
evenings to himself. Peter and I generally go out too, into the
village. We lean over the rail of the pier for a long time without
speaking, staring down at the cheap jewellery of the Kurhaus
lights reflected in the black water, each busy with his own
thoughts. Sometimes we go into the Bavarian cafe and Peter
gets steadily drunk - his stern, Puritan mouth contracting
slightly with distaste as he raises the glass to his lips. I say
nothing. There is too much to say. Peter, I know, wants me to
make some provocative remark about Otto which will give him
the exquisite relief of losing his temper. I don't, and we drink
- keeping up a desultory conversation about books and concerts
and plays. Later, when we are returning home, Peter's footsteps
will gradually quicken until, as we enter the house, he leaves me
and runs upstairs to his bedroom. Often we don't get back till
half-past twelve or a quarter to one, but it is very seldom that
we find Otto already there.
ON RUEGEN ISLAND 97
Down by the railway station, there is a holiday home for
children from the Hamburg slums. Otto has got to know one of
the teachers from this home, and they go out dancing together
nearly every evening. Sometimes the girl, with her little troop of
children, comes marching past the house. The children glance
up at the windows and, if Otto happens to be looking out, in-
dulge in precocious jokes. They nudge and pluck at their young
teacher's arm to persuade her to look up, too.
On these occasions, the girl smiles coyly and shoots one
glance at Otto from under her eyelashes, while Peter, watching
behind the curtains, mutters through clenched teeth: *Bitch
. . . bitch . . . bitch . . .' This persecution annoys him more than
the actual friendship itself. We always seem to be running
across the children when we are out walking in the woods. The
children sing as they march - patriotic songs about the Home-
land - in voices as shrill as birds. From far off, we hear them
approaching, and have to turn hastily in the opposite direction.
It is, as Peter says, like Captain Hook and the Crocodile.
Peter has made a scene, and Otto has told his friend that
she mustn't bring her troop past the house any more. But now
they have begun bathing on our beach, not very far from the
fort. The first morning this happened. Otto's glance kept turn-
ing in their direction. Peter was aware of this, of course, and
remained plunged in gloomy silence.
*What's the matter with you to-day, Peter?' said Otto. *Why
are you so horrid to me?'
*Horrid to youV Peter laughed savagely.
*0h, very well then,' Otto jumped up. *I see you don't want
me here.' And, bounding over the rampart of our fort, be began
to run along the beach towards the teacher and her children,
very gracefully, displaying his figure to the best possible advan-
Yesterday evening, there was a gala dance at the Kurhaus. In
a mood of unusual generosity. Otto had promised Peter not to
be later than a quarter to one, so Peter sat up with a book to
wait for him. I didn't feel tired, and wanted to finish a chapter,
so suggested that he should come into my room and wait there.
98 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
I worked. Peter read. The hours went slowly by. Suddenly
I looked at my watch and saw that it was a quarter past two.
Peter had dozed off in his chair. Just as I was wondering
whether I should wake him, I heard Otto coming up the stairs.
His footsteps sounded drunk. Finding no one is his room, he
banged open my door. Peter sat up with a start.
Otto lolled grinning against the doorpost. He made me a
half-tipsy salute. *Have you been reading all this time?* he
*YeSj' said Peter, very self-controlled.
Why?' Otto smiled fatuously.
^Because I couldn't sleep.'
*Why couldn't you sleep?'
*You know quite well,' said Peter between his teeth.
Otto yawned in his most offensive manner. 1 don't know and
I don't care . . . Don't make such a fuss.'
Peter rose to his feet.* God, you little swine ! ' he said, smack-
ing Otto's face hard with the flat of his hand. Otto didn't
attempt to defend himself. He gave Peter an extraordinarily
vindictive look out of his bright little eyes, *Good!' He spoke
rather thickly. To-morrow I shall go back to Berlin.' He turned
unsteadily on his heel.
*Otto, come here,' said Peter. I saw that, in another moment,
he would burst into tears of rage. He followed Otto out on to
the landing. *Come here,' he said again, in a sharp tone of com-
*Oh, leave me alone,' said Otto, I'm sick of you. I want to
sleep now. To-morrow I'm going back to Berlin.'
This morning, however, peace has been restored - at a
price. Otto's repentance has taken the form of a sentimental
outburst over his family : *Here I've been enjoying myself and
never thinking of them . . . Poor mother has to work like a dog,
and her lungs are so bad . . . Let's send her some money, shall
we, Peter? Let's send her fifty marks . . .' Otto's generosity
reminded him of his own needs. In addition to the money for
Frau Nowak, Peter has been talked into ordering Otto a new
suit, which will cost a hundred and eighty, as well as a pair of
shoes, a dressing-gown, and a hat.
ON RUEGEN ISLAMD 99
In return for this outlay. Otto has volunteered to break oflE
his relations with the teacher. (We now discover that, in any
case, she is leaving the island to-morrow.) After supper, she
appeared, walking up and down outside the house.
*Just let her wait till she's tired,' said Otto. I'm not going
down to her.'
Presently the girl, made bold by impatience, began to
whistle. This sent Otto into a frenzy of glee. Throwing open
the window, he danced up and down, waving his arms and
making hideous faces at the teacher who, for her part, seemed
struck dumb with amazement at this extraordinary exhibition.
*Get away from here ! ' Otto yelled. *Get out ! '
The girl turned, and walked slowly away, a rather pathetic
figure, into the gathering darkness.
*I think you might have said good-bye to her,' said Peter, who
could afford to be magnanimous, now that he saw his enemy
But Otto wouldn't hear of it.
*What's the use of all those rotten girls, anyhow? Every
night they came pestering me to dance with them . . . And you
know how I am, Peter - I'm so easily persuaded ... Of course,
it was horrid of me to leave you alone, but what could I do? It
was all their fault, really . . .'
Our life has now entered upon a new phase. Otto's resolu-
tions were short-lived. Peter and I are alone together most of
the day. The teacher has left, and with her. Otto's last induce-
ment to bathe with us from the fort. He now goes off, every
morning, to the bathing-beach by the pier, to flirt and play
ball with his dancing-partners of the evening. The little doctor
has also disappeared, and Peter and I are free to bathe and loll
in the sun as unathletically as we wish.
After supper, the ritual of Otto's preparations for the dance
begins. Sitting in my bedroom, I hear Peter's footsteps cross
the landing, light and springy with relief - for now comes the
only time of day when Peter feels himself altogether excused
from taking any interest in Otto's activities. When he taps on
my door, I shut my book at once. I have been out already to the
100 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
village to buy half-a-pound of peppermint creams. Peter says
good-bye to Otto, with a vain lingering hope that, perhaps to-
night, he will, after all, be punctual: *Till half-past twelve,
then . . .'
Till one,' Otto bargains.
*A11 right,' Peter concedes. Till one. But don't be late.'
*No, Peter, I won't be late.'
As we open the garden gate and cross the road into the wood,
Otto waves to us from the balcony. I have to be careful to hide
the peppermint creams under my coat, in case he should see
them. Laughing guiltily, munching the peppermints, we take
the woodland path to Baabe. We always spend our evenings
in Baabe, nowadays. We like it better than our own village. Its
single sandy street of low-roofed houses among the pine-trees
has a romantic, colonial air; it is like a ramshackle, lost settle-
ment somewhere in the backwoods, where people come to look
for a non-existent gold mine and remain, stranded, for the rest
of their lives.
In the little restaurant, we eat strawberries and cream, and
talk to the young waiter. The waiter hates Germany and longs
to go to America. Hier ist nichts /os.' During the season, he is
allowed no free time at all, and in the winter he earns nothing.
Most of the Baabe boys are Nazis. Two of them come into the
restaurant sometimes and engage us in good-humoured poli-
tical argimaents. They tell us about their field-exercises and
Tou're preparing for war,' says Peter indignantly. On these
occasions - although he has really not the slightest interest in
politics - he gets quite heated.
^Excuse me,' one of the boys contradicts, ^that's quite wrong.
The Fiihrer does not want war. Our programme stands for
peace, with honour. All the same . . .' he adds wistfully, his
face lighting up, *war can be fine, you know! Think of the
ancient Greeks ! '
The ancient Greeks,' I object, *didn't use poison gas.'
The boys are rather scornful at this quibble. One of them
answers loftily. That's a purely technical question.'
At half-past ten we go down, with most of the other inhabi-
ON RUEGEN ISLAND 1 01
tants, to the railway station, to watch the arrival of the last
train. It is generally empty. It goes clanging away through the
dark woods, sounding its harsh bell. At last it is late enough to
start home; this time, we take the road. Across the meadows,
you can see the illuminated entrance of the cafe by the lake,
where Otto goes to dance.
The lights of Hell are shining brightly this evening,' Peter
is fond of remarking.
Peter's jealousy has turned into insomnia. He has begun
taking sleeping tablets, but admits that they seldom have any
effect. They merely made him feel drowsy next morning, after
breakfast. He often goes to sleep for an hour or two in our fort,
on the shore.
This morning the weather was cool and dull, the sea oyster-
grey. Peter and I hired a boat, rowed out beyond the pier, then
let ourselves drift, gently, away from the land. Peter lit a cigar-
ette. He said abruptly:
*I wonder how much longer this will go on . . .'
*As long as you let it, I suppose.'
*Yes . . . We seem to have got into a pretty static condition,
don't we? I suppose there's no particular reason why Otto and
I should ever stop behaving to each other as we do at pre-
sent . . .' He paused, added: ^Unless, of course I stop giving
*What do you think would happen, then?'
Peter paddled idly in the water with his fingers. *He'd leave
The boat drifted on for several minutes. I asked : Tou don't
think he cares for you, at all?'
*At the beginning he did, perhaps . . . Not now. There's noth-
ing between us now but my cash.'
*Do you still care for him?'
*No ... I don't know. Perhaps ... I still hate him, sometimes
- if that's a sign of caring.'
*It might be.'
There was a long pause. Peter dried his fingers on his hand-
kerchief. His mouth twitched nervously.
102 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
Well,' he said at last, *what do you advise me to do?'
*What do you want to do?'
Peter's mouth gave another twitch.
*I suppose, really, I want to leave him.'
Then you'd better leave him.'
The sooner the better. Give him a nice present and send
him back to Berlin this afternoon.'
Peter shook his head, smiled sadly :
There was another long pause. Then Peter said : *I'm sorry
Christopher . . . You're absolutely right, I know. If I were in
your place, I'd say the same thing . . . But I can't. Things have
got to go on as they are - until something happens. They can't
last much longer, anyhow . . . Oh, I know I'm very weak . . .'
*You needn't apologise to me,' I smiled, to conceal a slight
feeling of irritation : I'm not one of your analysts ! '
I picked up the oars and began to row back towards the
shore. As we reached the pier, Peter said :
*It seems funny to think of now - when I first met Otto, I
thought we should live together for the rest of our lives.'
*Oh, my God ! ' The vision of a life with Otto opened before
me, like a comic inferno. I laughed out loud. Peter laughed, too,
wedging his locked hands between his knees. His face turned
from pink to red, from red to purple. His veins bulged. We
were still laughing when we got out of the boat.
In the garden the landlord was waiting for us. *What a pity ! '
he exclaimed. *The gentlemen are too late ! ' He pointed over
the meadows, in the direction of the lake. We could see the
smoke rising above the line of poplars, as the litde train drew
out of the station : *Your friend was obliged to leave for Berlin,
suddenly, on urgent business. I hoped the gentlemen might
have been in time to see him off. What a pity ! '
This time, both Peter and I ran upstairs. Peter's bedroom was
in a terrible mess - all the drawers and cupboards were open.
Propped up on the middle of the table was a note, in Otto's
cramped, scrawling hand :
ON RUEGEN ISLAND IO3
Dear Peter. Please forgive me I couldn't stand it any
longer here so I am going home.
Love from Otto.
Don't be angry.
(Otto had written it, I noticed it, on a fly-leaf torn out of one of
Peter's psychology books: Beyond the Pleasure-Principle.)
*Well . . . ! ' Peter's mouth began to twitch. I glanced at him
nervously, expecting a violent outburst, but he seemed fairly
calm. After a moment, he walked over to the cupboards and
began looking through the drawers. 'He hasn't taken much,'
he announced, at the end of his search. *Only a couple of my
ties, three shirts - lucky my shoes don't fit him! - and, let's
see ... about two hundred marks . . .' Peter started to laugh,
rather hysterically : 'Very moderate, on the whole ! '
'Do you think he decided to leave quite suddenly?' I
asked, for the sake of saying something.
'Probably he did. That would be just like him . . . Now I
come to think of it, I told him we were going out in that boat,
this morning - and he asked me if we should be away for
long. . .'
I sat down on Peter's bed - thinking, oddly enough, that
Otto has at last done something which I rather respect.
Peter's hysterical high spirits kept him going for the rest
of the morning; at lunch he turned gloomy, and wouldn't
say a word.
'Now I must go and pack,' he told me when we had finished.
'You're off, too?'
Peter smiled. 'No, Christopher. Don't be alarmed ! Only to
England. . .'
'There's a train which'U get me to Hamburg, late to-night.
I shall probably go straight on ... I feel I've got to keep travel-
ling until I'm clear of this bloody country . . .'
104 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
There was nothing to say. I helped him pack, in silence. As
Peter put his shaving-mirror into the bag, he asked : 'Do you
remember how Otto broke this, standing on his head?'
Tes, I remember.*
When we had finished, Peter went out on to the balcony of
his room: There'll be plenty of whistling outside here, to-
night', he said.
I smiled : *I shall have to go down and console them.*
Peter laughed : Tes, You will ! *
I went with him to the station. Luckily, the engine-driver
was in a hurry. The train only waited a couple of minutes.
'What shall you do when you get to London?' I asked.
Peter's mouth curved down at the corners; he gave me a
kind of inverted grin: 'Look round for another analyst, I
'Well, mind you beat down his prices a bit ! *
As the train moved out, he waved his hand : 'Well, good-bye,
Christopher. Thank you for all your moral support ! '
Peter never suggested that I should write to him, or visit him
at h(Mne. I suppose he wants to forget this place, and everybody
concerned with it. I can hardly blame him.
It was only this evening, turning over the pages of a book I
have been reading, that I found another note from Otto, slipped
between the leaves.
Please dear Qiristoph don't you be angry with me too
because you aren't an idiot like Peter. When you are back in
Berlin I shall come and see you because I know where you
live; I saw the address on one of your letters and we can have
a nice talk.
Your loving friend,
I thought, somehow, that he wouldn't be got rid of quite so
Actually, I am leaving for Berlin in a day or two, now. I
thought I should stay on till the end of August, and perhaps
ON RUEGEN ISLAND IO5
finish my novel, but, suddenly, die place seems so lonely. I miss
Peter and Otto, and their daily quarrels, far more than I should
have expected. And now even Otto's dancing-partners have
stopped lingering sadly in the twilight, under my window.
The entrance to the Wassertorstrasse was a big stone archway,
a bit of old Berlin, daubed with hammers and sickles and Nazi
crosses and plastered with tattered bills which advertised
auctions or crimes. It was a deep shabby cobbled street, littered
with sprawling children in tears. Youths in woollen sweaters
circled waveringly across it on racing bikes and whooped at
girls passing with milk-jugs. The pavement was chalk-marked
for the hopping game called Heaven and Earth. At the end
of it, like a tall, dangerously sharp, red instrument, stood a
Frau Nowak herself opened the door to me. She looked far
iller than when I had seen her last, with big blue rings under
her eyes. She was wearing the same hat and mangy old black
coat. At first, she didn't recognize me.
'Good afternoon, Frau Nowak.'
Her face changed slowly from poking suspicion to a brilliant,
timid, almost girlish smile of welcome :
*Why, if it isn't Herr Christoph ! Come in, Herr Christoph !
Come in and sit down.'
I'm afraid you were just going out, weren't you?'
*No, no, Herr Christoph - I've just come in; just this minute.'
She was wiping her hands hastily on her coat before shaking
mine : *This is one of my charring days. I don't get finished till
half-past two, and it makes the dinner so late.'
She stood aside for me to enter. I pushed open the door and,
in doing so, jarred the handle of the frying-pan on the stove
which stood just behind it. In the tiny kitchen there was barely
room for the two of us together. A stifling smell of potatoes
in cheap margarine filled the flat.
'Come and sit down, Herr Christoph,' she repeated, hastily
doing the honours. Tm afraid it's terribly untidy. You must
excuse that. I have to go out so early and my Crete's such a lazy
THE NOWAKS IO7
great lump, though she's turned twelve. There's no getting her
to do anything, if you don't stand over her all the time.'
The living-room had a sloping ceiling stained with old
patches of damp. It contained a big table, six chairs, a side-
board and two large double-beds. The place was so full of
furniture that you had to squeeze your way into it sideways.
*Grete ! ' cried Frau Nowak. * Where are you? Come here this
minute ! '
*She's gone out,' came Otto's voice from the inner room.
*Otto ! Come and see who's here ! '
*Can't be bothered. I'm busy mending the gramophone.'
*Busy, indeed ! You ! You good-for-nothing ! That's a nice
way to speak to your mother 1 Come out of that room, do you
She had flown into a rage instantly, automatically, with
astonishing violence. Her face became all nose: thin, bitter
and inflamed. Her whole body trembled.
*It doesn't really matter, Frau Nowak,' I said. *Let him come
out when he wants to. He'll get all the bigger surprise.'
*A nice son I've got ! Speaking to me like that.'
She had pulled off her hat and was unpacking greasy par-
cels from a string bag : *Dear me,' she fussed. 'I wonder where
that child's got to? Always down in the street, she is. If I've
told her once, I've told her a hundred times. Children have no
*How has your lung been keeping, Frau Nowak?'
She sighed : ^Sometimes it seems to me it's worse than ever.
I get such a burning, just here. And when I finish work it's as
if I was too tired to eat. I come over so bilious ... I don't think
the doctor's satisfied either. He talks about sending me to a
sanatoriimi later in the winter. I was there before, you know.
But there's always so many waiting to go . . . Then, the flat's so
damp at this time of year. You see those marks on the ceiling?
There's days we have to put a foot-bath under them to catch the
drips. Of course, they've no right to let these attics as dwellings
at all, really. The Inspector's condemned them time and time
again. But what are you to do? One must live somewhere. We
applied for a transfer over a year ago and they keep promising
I08 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
they'll see about it. But there's a lot of others are worse off
still, I dare say . . . My husband was reading out of the news-
paper the other day about the English and their Pound. It keeps
on falling, they say. I don't understand such things, myself. I
hope you haven't lost any money, Herr Christoph?'
*As a matter of fact, Frau Nowak, that's partly why I came
down to see you to-day. I've decided to go into a cheaper room
and I was wondering if there was anywhere round here you
could recommend me?'
*0h dear, Herr Christoph, I am sorry ! '
She was quite genuinely shocked : *But you can't live in this
part of the town - a gentleman like you ! Oh, no. I'm afraid it
wouldn't suit you at all.'
Tm not so particular as you think, perhaps. 1 just want a
quiet, clean room for about twenty marks a month. It doesn't
matter how small it is. I'm out most of the day.'
She shook her head doubtfully: *Well, Herr Christoph, I
shall have to see if I can't think of something . . .'
*Isn't dinner ready yet, mother?' asked Otto, appearing in
shirt-sleeves at the doorway of the inner room: I'm nearly
starving ! '
*How do you expect it to be ready when I have to spend the
whole morning slaving for you, you great lump of laziness!'
cried Frau Nowak, shrilly, at the top of her voice. Then, trans-
posing without the least pause into her ingratiating social tone,
she added: *Don't you see who's here?'
*Why . . . it's Christoph!' Otto, as usual, had begun acting
at once. His face was slowly illuminated by a sunrise of extreme
joy. His cheeks dimpled with smiles. He sprang forward, throw-
ing one arm around my neck, wringing my hand : ^Christoph,
you old soul, where have you been hiding all this time?' His
voice became languishing, reproachful : 'We've missed you so
much! Why have you never come to see us?'
*Herr Christoph is a very busy gentleman,' put in Frau
Nowak reprovingly : *He's got no time to waste running after a
do-nothing like you.'
Otto grinned, winked at me : then he turned reproachfully
upon Frau Nowak:
THE NOWAKS IO9
'Mother, what are you thinking of? Are you going to let
Christoph sit there without so much as a cup of coffee? He
must be thirsty, after cUmbing all these stairs ! '
'What you mean is. Otto, that you're thirsty, don't you? No,
thank you, Frau Nowak, I won't have anything - really. And I
won't keep you from your cooking any longer . . . Look here.
Otto, will you come out with me now and help me find a room?
I've just been telling your mother that I'm coming to live in
this neighbourhood . . . You shall have your cup of coffee with
*What, Christoph - you're going to Hve here, in Hallesches
Tor ! ' Otto began dancing with excitement : 'Oh mother, won't
that be grand ! Oh, I am so pleased ! '
'You may just as well go out and have a look round with
Herr Christoph, now,' said Frau Nowak. 'Dinner won't be
ready for at least an hour, yet. You're only in my way here. Not
you, Herr Christoph, of course. You'll come back and have
something to eat with us, won't you?'
'Well, Frau Nowak, it's very kind of you indeed, but I'm
afraid I can't to-day. I shall have to be getting back home.'
'Just give me a crust of bread before I go, mother,' begged
Otto piteously. 'I'm so empty that my head's spinning round
like a top.'
'All right,' said Frau Nowak, cutting a slice of bread and half
throwing it at him in her vexation, 'but don't blame me if
there's nothing in the house this evening when you want to
make one of your sandwiches . . . Good-bye, Herr Christoph. It
was very kind of you to come and see us. If you really decide
to live near here, I hope you'll look in often . . . though I
doubt if you'll find anything to your liking. It won't be what
you've been accustomed to . . .'
As Otto was about to follow me out of the flat she called him
back. I heard them arguing; then the door shut. I descended
slowly the five flights of stairs to the courtyard. The bottom of
the court was clammy and dark, although the sun was shining
on a cloud in the sky overhead. Broken buckets, wheels off
prams and bits of bicycle tyre lay scattered about like things
which have fallen down a well.
no GOODBYE TO BERLIN
It was a minute or two before Otto came clattering down
the stairs to join me :
*Mother didn't like to ask you,' he told me, breathless. *She
was afraid you'd be annoyed . . . But I said that I was sure you'd
far rather be with us, where you can do just what you like and
you know everything's clean, than in a strange house full of
bugs ... Do say yes, Christoph, please ! It'll be such fun ! You
and I can sleep in the back room. You can have Lothar's bed -
he won't mind. He can share the double-bed with Grete . . .
And in the mornings you can stay in bed as long as ever you
like. If you want, I'll bring your breakfast . . . You will come,
And so it was settled.
My first evening as a lodger at the Nowaks was something of
a ceremony. I arrived with my two suit-cases soon after five
o'clock, to find Frau Nowak already cooking the evening meal.
Otto whispered to me that we were to have lung hash, as a
I'm afraid you won't think very much of our food,' said Frau
Nowak, *af ter what you've been used to. But we'll do our best.'
She was all smiles, bubbling over with excitement, I smiled and
smiled, feeling awkward and in the way. At length, I clam-
bered over the living-room furniture and sat down on my bed.
There was no space to unpack in, and nowhere, apparently, to
put my clothes. At the living-room table, Grete was playing
with her cigarette-cards and transfers. She was a lumpish child
of twelve years old, pretty in a sugary way, but round-
shouldered and too fat. My presence made her very self-
conscious. She wriggled, smirked and kept calling out, in an
affected, sing-song, *grown-up' voice :
*Mummy ! Come and look at the pretty flowers ! '
*I've got no time for your pretty flowers,' exclaimed Frau
Nowak at length, in great exasperation: *Here am I, with a
daughter the size of an elephant, having to slave all by myself,
cooking the supper!'
*Quite right, mother!' cried Otto, gleefully joining in. He
THE NO WARS III
turned upon Grete, righteously indignant: *Why don't you
help her, I should like to know? You're fat enough. You sit
around all day doing nothing. Get off that chair this instant, do
you hear ! And put those filthy cards away, or I'll burn them ! '
He grabbed at the cards with one hand and gave Grete a slap
across the face with the other. Grete, who obviously wasn't
hurt, at once set up a loud, theatrical wail : *0h. Otto, you've
hurt me ! ' She covered her face with her hands and peeped at
me between the fingers.
'Will you leave that child alone ! ' cried Frau Nowak shrilly
from the kitchen. *I should like to know who you are, to talk
about laziness ! And you, Grete, just you stop that howling - or
I'll tell Otto to hit you properly, so diat you'll have something
to cry for. You two between you, you drive me distracted.'
*But, mother ! ' Otto ran into the kitchen, took her round the
waist and began kissing her : Toor little Mummy, little Mutti,
little Muttchen,' he crooned, in tones of the most mawkish
solicitude. *You have to work so hard and Otto's so horrid to
you. But he doesn't mean to be, you know - he's just stupid . . .
Shall I fetch the coal up for you to-morrow, Munomy? Would
you like that?'
'Let go of me, you great humbug ! ' cried Frau Nowak, laugh-
ing and struggling. *I don't want any of your soft soap ! Much
you care for your poor old mother ! Leave me to get on with my
work in peace.'
*Otto's not a bad boy,' she continued to me, when he had let
go of her at last, *but he's such a scatterbrain. Quite the oppo-
site of my Lothar - there's a model son for you ! He's not too
proud to do any job, whatever it is, and when he's scraped a few
groschen together, instead of spending them on himself he
comes straight to me and says : "Here you are, mother. Just
buy yourself a pair of warm house-shoes for the winter." Frau
Nowak held out her hand to me with the gesture of giving
money. Like Otto, she had the trick of acting every scene she
*0h, Lothar, this, Lothar that,' Otto interrupted crossly:
*It's always Lothar. But tell me this, mother, which of us was it
that gave you a twenty-mark note the other day? Lothar
112 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
couldn't earn twenty marks in a month of Smidays. Well, if
that's how you talk, you needn't expect to get any more; not
if you come to me on your knees.'
*You wicked boy,' she was up in arms again in an instant,
*have you no more shame than to speak of such things in front
of Herr Christoph ! Why, if he knew where that twenty marks
came from - and plenty more besides - he'd disdain to stay in
the same house with you another minute; and quite right, too!
And the cheek of you - saying you gave me that money ! You
know very well that if your father hadn't seen the envelope . . .'
That's right ! ' shouted Otto, screwing up his face at her like
a monkey and beginning to dance with excitement : That's just
what I wanted ! Admit to Christoph that you stole it ! You're
a thief! You're a thief!'
*Otto, how dare you!' Quick as fury, Frau Nowak's hand
grabbed up the Ud of a saucepan. I jumped back a pace to be
out of range, tripped over a chair and sat down hard. Grete
uttered an affected little shriek of joy and alarm. The door
opened. It was Herr Nowak, come back from his work.
He was a powerful, dumpy little man, with pointed mous-
tache, cropped hair and bushy eyebrows. He took in the scene
with a long grunt which was half a belch. He did not appear to
understand what had been happening; or perhaps he merely
did not care. Frau Nowak said nothing to enlighten him. She
hung the saucepan-lid quietly on a hook. Grete jumped up
from her chair and ran to him with outstretched arms : Tappi !
Herr Nowak smiled down at her, showing two or three nico-
tine-stained stumps of teeth. Bending, he picked her up, care-
fully and expertly, with a certain admiring curiosity, like a
large valuable vase. By profession he was a furniture-remover.
Then he held out his hand - taking his time about it, gracious,
not fussily eager to please :
*Aren't you glad that Herr Christoph's come to live with us,
Pappi?' chanted Grete, perched on her father's shoulder, in
her sugary sing-song tones. At this Herr Nowak, as if suddenly
acquiring new energy, began shaking my hand again, much
THE NOWAKS II3
more warmly, and thumping me on the back :
*Glad? Yes, of course I'm glad!* He nodded his head in
vigorous approval. *Englisch Man? Anglais, eh? Ha, ha. That's
right ! Oh, yes, I talk French, you see. Forgotten most of it now.
Learnt in the war. I was Feldwebel - on the West Front. Talked
to lots of prisoners. Good lads. All the same as us . . .'
Tou're drunk again, father ! ' exclaimed Frau Nowak in dis-
gust. Whatever will Herr Christoph think of you ! '
*Christoph doesn't mind; do you, Christoph?' Herr Nowak
patted my shoulder.
*Christoph, indeed ! He's Herr Christoph to you ! Can't you
tell a gentleman when you see one?'
*I'd much rather you called me Christoph,' I said.
'That's right ! Christoph's right ! We're all the same flesh
and blood . . . Argent^ money - all the same! Ha, ha!'
Otto took my other arm: *Christoph's quite one of the
family, already ! '
Presently we sat down to an immense meal of lung hash,
black bread, malt coffee and boiled potatoes. In the first reckles-
ness of having so much money to spend (I had given her ten
marks in advance for the week's board) Frau Nowak had pre-
pared enough for a dozen people. She kept shovelling them
on to my plate from a big saucepan, until I thought I should
*Have some more, Herr Christoph. You're eating nothing.'
I've never eaten so much in my whole life, Frau Nowak.'
'Christoph doesn't like our food,' said Herr Nowak. 'Never
mind, Christoph, you'll get used to it. Otto was just the same
when he came back from the seaside. He'd got used to all sorts
of fine ways, with his Englishman . . .'
'Hold your tongue, father!' said Frau Nowak warningly.
'Can't you leave the boy alone? He's old enough to be able to
decide for himself what's right and wrong - more shame to
We were still eating when Lothar came in. He threw his cap
on the bed, shook hands with me politely but silently, with a
little bow, and took his place at the table. My presence did
not appear to surprise or interest him in the least : his glance
114 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
barely met mine. He was, I knew, only twenty; but he might
well have been years older. He was a man already. Otto seemed
almost childish beside him. He had a lean, bony, peasant's face,
soured by racial memory of barren fields.
*Lothar's going to night-school,' Frau Nowak told me with
pride, *He had a job in a garage, you know; and now he wants
to study engineering. They won't take you in anywhere nowa-
days unless you've got a diploma of some sort. He must
show you his drawings, Herr Christoph, when you've got
time to look at them. The teacher said they were very good
*I should like to see them.'
Lothar didn't respond. I sympathized with him and felt
rather foolish. But Frau Nowak was determined to show him
*What nights are your classes, Lothar?'
^Mondays and Thursdays.' He went on eating, deliberately,
obstinately, without looking at his mother. Then perhaps to
show that he bore me no ill-will, he added: Trom eight to
ten-thirty.' As soon as he had finished, he got up without a
word, shook hands with me, making the same small bow, took
his cap and went out.
Frau Nowak looked after him and sighed : *He's going round
to his Nazis, I suppose. I often wish he'd never taken up with
them at all. They put all kinds of silly ideas into his head. It
makes him so restless. Since he joined them he's been a dif-
ferent boy altogether . . . Not that I understand these politics
myself. What I always say is - why can't we have the Kaiser
back? Those were the good times, say what you like.'
*Ach, to hell with your old Kaiser,' said Otto. 'What we
want is a communist revolution.'
*A communist revolution ! ' Frau Nowak snorted. 'The idea !
The communists are all good-for-nothing lazybones like you,
who've never done an honest day's work in their lives.'
'Christoph's a communist,' said Otto. 'Aren't you, Chris-
'Not a proper one, I'm afraid.'
Frau Nowak smiled : 'What nonsense will you be telling us
THE NOWAKS II5
next! How could Herr Christoph be a communist? He's a
*What I say is — .' Herr Nowak put down his knife and fork
and wiped his moustache carefully on the back of his hand :
*we're all equal as God made us. You're- as good as me; I'm as
good as you. A Frenchman's as good as an Englishman; an
Englishman's as good as a German. You understand what I
*Take the war, now — .' Herr Nowak pushed back his chair
from the table : 'One day I was in a wood. All alone, you under-
stand. Just walking through the wood by myself, as I might
be walking down the street . . . And suddenly - there before me,
stood a Frenchman. Just as if he'd sprung out of the earth. He
was no further away from me than you are now.' Herr Nowak
sprang to his feet as he spoke. Snatching up the bread-knife
from the table he held it before him, in a posture of
defence, like a bayonet. He glared at me from beneath his
bushy eyebrows, re-living the scene : *There we stand. We look
at each other. That Frenchman was as pale as death. Suddenly
he cries: "Don't shoot me!" Just Uke that.' Herr Nowak
clasped his hands in a piteous gesture of entreaty. The bread-
knife was in the way now : he put it down on the table. * "Don't
shoot me ! I have five children." (He spoke French, of course :
but I could understand him. I could speak French perfectly in
those days; but I've forgotten some of it now.) Well, I look at
him and he looks at me. Then I say: "Ami." (that means
Friend.) And then we shake hands.' Herr Nowak took my hand
in both of his and pressed it with great emotion. *And then
we begin to walk away from each other - backwards; I didn't
want him to shoot me in the back.' Still glaring in front of him
Herr Nowak began cautiously retreating backwards, step by
step, until he collided violently with the sideboard. A framed
photograph fell off it. The glass smashed.
Tappi! Pappi!' cried Grete in delight. 7ust look what
you've done ! '
Terhaps that'll teach you to stop your fooling, you old
clown!' exclaimed Frau Nowak angrily. Grete began loudly
Il6 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
and affectedly laughing, until Otto slapped her face and she set
up her stagey whine. Meanwhile, Herr Nowak had restored his
wife's good temper by kissing her and pinching her cheek.
*Get away from me, you great lout ! ' she protested laugh-
ingly; coyly pleased that I was present :*let me alone, you
stink of beer ! '
At that time, I had a great many lessons to give. I was out
most of the day. My pupils were scattered about the fashion-
able suburbs of the west - rich, well-preserved women of Frau
Nowak's age, but looking ten years younger; they liked to
make a hobby of a Httle English conversation on dull after-
noons when their husbands were away at the office. Sitting on
silk cushions in front of open fireplaces, we discussed Point
Counter Point and Lady Chatterley's Lover. A manservant
brought in tea with buttered toast. Sometimes, when they got
tired of literature, I amused them by descriptions of the Nowak
household. I was careful, however, not to say that I Uved
there ; it would have been bad for my business to admit that
I was really poor. The ladies paid me three marks an hour; a
little reluctantly, having done their best to beat me down to
two marks fifty. Most of them also tried, deliberately or sub-
consciously, to cheat me into staying longer than my time. I
always had to keep my eye on the clock.
Fewer people wanted lessons in the morning; and so it
happened that I usually got up much later than the rest of the
Nowak family. Frau Nowak had her charring, Herr Nowak
went off to his job at the furniture-removers, Lothar, who was
out of work, was helping a friend with a paper-round, Grete
went to school. Only Otto kept me company; except on the
mornings when, with endless nagging, he was driven out to the
labour-bureau by his mother, to get his card stamped.
After fetching our breakfast, a cup of coffee and a slice of
bread and dripping. Otto would strip off his pyjamas and do
exercises, shadow-box or stand on his head. He flexed his
muscles for my admiration. Squatting on my bed, he told me
*Did I ever tell you, Christoph, how I saw the Hand?'
THE NOWAKS II7
*No5 1 don't think so.'
Well, listen . . . Once, when I was very small, I was lying in
bed at night. It was very dark and very late. And suddenly I
woke up and saw a great big black hand stretching over the
bed. I was so frightened I couldn't even scream. I just drew my
legs up under my chin and stared at it. Then, after a minute
or two, it disappeared and I yelled out. Mother came running
in and I said: "Mother, I've seen the Hand." But she only
laughed. She wouldn't believe it.'
Otto's innocent face, with its two dimples, like a bun, had
become very solemn. He held me with his absurdly small bright
eyes, concentrating all his narrative powers :
*And then, Christoph, several years later, I had a job as
apprentice to an upholsterer. Well, one day ~ it was in the
middle of the morning, in broad daylight - I was sitting work-
ing on my stool. And suddenly it seemed to go all dark in the
room and I looked up and there was the Hand, as near to me
as you are now, just closing over me. I felt my arms and legs
turn cold and I couldn't breathe and I couldn't cry out. The
master saw how pale I was and he said : "Why, Otto, what's the
matter with you? Aren't you well?" And as he spoke to me it
seemed as if the Hand drew right away from me again, getting
smaller and smaller, until it was just a little black speck. And
when I looked up again the room was quite light, just as it
always was, and where I'd seen the black speck there was a
big fly crawling across the ceiling. But I was so ill the whole
day that the master had to send me home.'
Otto's face had gone quite pale during this recital and, for a
moment, a really frightening expression of fear had passed over
his features. He was tragic now; his little eyes bright with
*One day I shall see the Hand again. And then I shall die.'
*Nonsense,' I said laughing. *We'll protect you.'
Otto shook his head very sadly :
*Let's hope so, Christoph. But I'm afraid not. The Hand will
get me in the end.'
*How long did you stay with the upholsterer?' I asked.
'Oh, not long. Only a few weeks. The master was so unkind
Il8 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
to me. He always gave me the hardest jobs to do - and I was
such a little chap then. One day I got there five minutes late.
He made a terrible row; called me a verfluchter Hund. And do
you think I put up with that?' Otto leant forward, thrust his
face, contracted into a dry monkey-like leer of malice, towards
me. 'Nee, neel Bei mir nicht!' His little eyes focussed upon
me for a moment with an extraordinary intensity of simian
hatred; his puckered-up features became startlingly ugly. Then
they relaxed. I was no longer the upholsterer. He laughed
gaily and innocently, throwing back his hair, showing his
teeth : *I pretended I was going to hit him. I frightened him,
all right!' He imitated the gesture of a scared middle-aged
man avoiding a blow. He laughed.
*And then you had to leave?' I asked.
Otto nodded. His face slowly changed. He was turning
*What did your father and mother say to that?'
*Oh, they've always been against me. Ever since I was small.
If there were two crusts of bread, mother would always give
the bigger one to Lothar. Whenever I complained they used to
say : "Go and work. You're old enough. Get your own food.
Why should we support you?" ' Otto's eyes moistened with the
most sincere self-pity: *Nobody understands me here. No-
body's good to me. They all hate me really. They wish I was
*How can you talk such rubbish. Otto! Your mother cer-
tainly doesn't hate you.'
Toor mother!' agreed Otto. He had changed his tone at
once, seeming utterly unaware of what he had just said : It's
terrible, I can't bear to think of her working like that, every
day. You know, Christoph, she's very, very ill. Often, at night,
she coughs for hours and hours. And sometimes she spits out
blood. I lie awake wondering If she's going to die.'
I nodded. In spite of myself I began to smile. Not that I
disbelieved what he had said about Frau Nowak. But Otto
himself, squatting there on the bed, was so animally alive, his
naked brown body so sleek with health, that his talk of death
seemed ludicrous, like the description of a funeral by a painted
THE NO WARS II9
clown. He must have understood this, for he grinned back,
not in the least shocked at my apparent callousness. Straight-
ening his legs he bent forward without effort and grasped his
feet with his hands: *Can you do that Christoph?'
A sudden notion pleased him: 'Christoph, if I show you
something, will you swear not to tell a single soul?'
He got up and rummaged under his bed. One of the floor-
boards was loose in the corner by the window : lifting it, he
fished out a tin box which had once contained biscuits. The
tin was full of letters and photographs. Otto spread them out
on the bed :
^Mother would burn these if she found then . . . Look, Chris-
toph, how do you like her? Her name's Hilde. I met her at the
place where I go dancing. . . . And this is Marie. Hasn't she
got beautiful eyes? She's wild about me - all the other boys are
jealous. But she's not really my tj^e.' Otto shook his head
seriously : 'You know, it's a funny thing, but as soon as I know
that a girl's keen on me, I lose interest in her. I wanted to break
with her altogether; but she came round here and made such
a to-do in front of mother. So I have to see here sometimes to
keep her quiet . . . And here's Trude - honestly, Christoph,
would you believe she was twenty-seven? It's a fact ! Hasn't she
a marvellous figure? She lives in the West End, in a flat of
her own! She's been divorced twice. I can go there whenever
I like. Here's a photo her brother took of her. He wanted to take
some of us two together, but I wouldn't let him. I was afraid
he'd sell them, afterwards - you can be arrested for it, you
know . . .' Otto smirked, handed me a packet of letters : *Here,
read these; they'll make you laugh. This one's from a Dutch-
man. He's got the biggest car I ever saw in my life. I was with
him in the spring. He writes to me sometimes. Father got wind
of it, and now he watches out to see if there's any money in the
envelopes - the dirty dog! But I know a trick worth two of
that! I've told all my friends to address their letters to the
bakery on the corner. The baker's son is a pal of mine . . .'
*Do you ever hear from Peter?' I asked.
Otto regarded me very solemnly for a moment : 'Christoph?'
120 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
*Will you do me a favour?'
*What is it?' I asked cautiously: Otto always chose the least
expected moments to ask for a small loan.
Tlease . . .' he was gently reproachful, *please, never men-
tion Peter's name to me again . . .'
*0h, all right,' I said, very much taken aback : *If you'd rather
Tou see, Christoph . . . Peter hurt me very much. I thought
he was my friend. And then, suddenly, he left me - all alone . . .'
Down in the murky pit of the courtyard where the fog, in
this clammy autumn weather, never lifted, the street singers
and musicians succeeded each other in a performance which
was nearly continuous. There were parties of boys with mando-
lins, an old man who played the concertina and a father who
sang with his little girls. Easily the favourite tune was : Aiis
der Jugendzeit. I often heard it a dozen times in one morning.
The father of the girls was paralyzed and could only make
desperate throtded noises like a donkey; but the daughters
sang with the energy of fiends : *Sie kommt, sie kommt nicht
mehr!' they screamed in unison, like demons of the air, re-
joicing in the frustration of mankind. Occasionally a groschen,
screwed in a corner of newspaper, was tossed down from a win-
dow high above. It hit the pavement and richocheted like a
bullet, but the little girls never flinched.
Now and then the visiting nurse called to see Frau Nowak,
shook her head over the sleeping arrangements and went
away again. The inspector of housing, a pale young man with
an open collar (which he obviously wore on principle), came
also and took copious notes. The attic, he told Frau Nowak,
absolutely insanitary and uninhabitable. He had a slightly re-
proachful air as he said this, as though we ourselves were
partly to blame. Frau Nowak bitterly resented these visits.
They were, she thought, simply attempts to spy on her. She
was haunted by the fear that the nurse or the inspector would
look in at a moment when the flat was untidy. So deep were her
suspicions that she even told lies - pretending that the leak
THE NO WARS 121
in the roof wasn't serious - to get them out of the house as
quickly as possible.
Another regular visitor was the Jewish tailor and outfitter,
who sold clothes of all kinds on the instalment plan. He was
small and gentle and very persuasive. All day long he made his
rounds of the tenements in the district, collecting fifty pfennigs
here, a mark there, scratching up his precarious livelihood,
like a hen, from this apparently barren soil. He never pressed
hard for money; preferring to urge his debtors to take more of
his goods and embark upon a fresh series of payments. Two
years ago Frau Nowak had bought a suit and an overcoat for
Otto for three hundred marks. The suit and the overcoat had
been worn out long ago, but the money was not nearly repaid.
Shortly after my arrival Frau Nowak invested in clothes for
Grete to the value of seventy-five marks. The tailor made no
objection at all.
The whole neighbourhood owed him money. Yet he was
not unpopular: he enjoyed the status of a public character,
whom people curse without real malice. Terhaps Lothar's
right,' Frau Nowak would sometimes say : *When Hitler comes,
he'll show these Jews a thing or two. They won't be so cheeky
then.' But when I suggested that Hitler, if he got his own way,
would remove the tailor altogether, then Frau Nowak would
immediately change her tone: *0h, I shouldn't like that to
happen. After all, he makes very good clothes. Besides, a Jew
will always let you have time if you're in difiiculties. You
wouldn't catch a Christian giving credit like he does . . . You
ask the people round here, Herr Christoph : they'd never turn
out the Jews.'
Towards evening Otto, who had spent the day in gloomy
lounging - either lolling about the flat or chatting with his
friends downstairs at the courtyard entrance - would begin to
brighten up. When I got back from work I generally found him
changing already from his sweater and knickerbockers into his
best suit, with its shoulders padded out to points, small tight
double-breasted waistcoat and bell-bottomed trousers. He had
quite a large selection of ties and it took him half an hour at
122 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
least to choose one of them and to knot it to his satisfaction. He
stood smirking in front of the cracked triangle of looking-glass
in the kitchen, his pink plum-face dimpled with conceit, getting
in Frau Nowak's way and disregarding all her protests. As soon
as supper was over he was going out dancing.
I generally went out in the evenings, too. However tired I
was, I couldn't go to sleep immediately after my evening
meal : Grete and her parents were often in bed by nine o'clock.
So I went to the cinema or sat in a caf 6 and read the newspapers
and yawned. There was nothing else to do.
At the end of our street there was a cellar lokal called the
Alexander Casino. Otto showed it to me one evening, when we
happened to leave the house together. You went down four
steps from the street level, opened the door, pushed aside the
heavy leather curtain which kept out the draught and found
yourself in a long, low, dingy room. It was lit by red Chinese
lanterns and festooned with dusty paper streamers. Round the
walls stood wicker tables and big shabby settees which looked
like the seats of English third-class railway-carriages. At die
far end were trellis-work alcoves, arboured over with imitation
cherry-blossom twined on wires. The whole place smelt damply
I had been here before : a year ago, in the days when Fritz
Wendcl used to take me on Saturday evening excursions round
*the dives' of the city. It was all just as we had left it; only less
sinister, less picturesque, symbolic no longer of a tremendous
truth about the meaning of existence - because, this time, I
wasn't in the least drunk. The same proprietor, an ex-boxer,
rested his immense stomach on the bar, the same hangdog
waiter shuffled forward in his soiled white coat: two girls, the
very same, perhaps, were dancing together to the wailing of
the loud-speaker. A group of youths in sweaters and leather
jackets were playing Sheep's Head; the spectators leaning over
to see the cards. A boy with tattooed arms sat by the stove, deep
in a crime shocker. His shirt was open at the neck, with the
sleeves rolled up to his armpits; he wore shorts and socks, as if
about to take part in a race. Over in the far alcove, a man and a
THE NOWAKS 1 23
boy were sitting together. The boy had a round childish face
and heavy reddened eyelids which looked swollen as if from
lack of sleep. He was relating something to the elderly, shaven-
headed, respectable-looking man, who sat rather unwillingly
listening and smoking a short cigar. The boy told his story
carefully and with great patience. At intervals, to emphasize a
point, he laid his hand on the elderly man's knee and looked up
into his face, watching its every movement shrewdly and in-
tently, like a doctor with a nervous patient.
Later on, I got to know this boy quite well. He was called
Pieps. He was a great traveller. He ran away from home at die
age of fourteen because his father, a woodcutter in the Thuring-
ian Forest, used to beat him. Pieps set out to walk to Hamburg.
At Hamburg he stowed away on a ship bound for Antwerp
and from Antwerp he walked back into Germany and along
the Rhine. He had been in Austria, too, and Czechoslovakia.
He was full of songs and stories and jokes : he had an extra-
ordinarily cheerful and happy nature, sharing what he had with
his friends and never worrying where his next meal was coming
from. He was a clever pickpocket and worked chiefly in an
amusement-hall in the Friedrichstrasse, not far from the
Passage, which was full of detectives and getting too dangerous
nowadays. In this amusement-hall there were punch-balls
and peepshows and try-your-grip machines. Most of the boys
from the Alexander Casino spent their afternoons there, whHe
their girls were out working the Friedrichstrasse and the Lin-
den for possible pickups.
Pieps lived together with his two friends, Gerhardt and Kurt,
in a cellar on the canal-bank, near the station of the overhead
railway. The cellar belonged to Gerhardt's aunt, an elderly
Friedrichstrasse whore, whose legs and arms were tattooed
with snakes, birds and flowers. Gerhardt was a tall boy with a
vague, silly unhappy smile. He did not pick pockets, but stole
from the big department-stores. He had never yet been caught,
perhaps because of the lunatic brazenness of his thefts. Stupidly
grinning, he would stuff things into his pockets right under
the noses of the shop-assistants. He gave everything he stole to
his aimt, who cursed him for his laziness and kept him very
124 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
short of money. One day, when we were together, he took from
his pocket a brightly coloured lady's leather belt : *Look, Chris-
toph, isn't it pretty?'
*Where did you get it from?'
Trom Landauers',' Gerhardt told me. *Why . . . what are you
*You see, the Landauers are friends of mine. It seems funny
- that's all.'
At once, Gerhardt's face was the picture of dismay : *You
won't tell them, Christoph, will you?'
*No,' I promised. *I won't.'
Kurt came to the Alexander Casino less often than the
others. I could understand him better than I could under-
stand Pieps of Gerhardt, because he was consciously unhappy.
He had a reckless, fatal streak in his character, a capacity for
pure sudden flashes of rage against the hopelessness of his
life. The Germans call it Wut. He would sit silent in his corner,
drinking rapidly, drumming with his fists on the table,
imperious and sullen. Then, suddenly, he would jump to his
feet, exclaim: ^Ach, ScheissP and go striding out. In this
mood, he picked quarrels deliberately with the other boys,
fighting them three or four at a time, until he was flung out into
the street, half stunned and covered with blood. On these
occasions even Pieps and Gerhardt joined against him as against
a public danger: they hit him as hard as anyone else and
dragged him home between them afterwards without the least
malice for the black eyes he often managed to give them. His
behaviour did not appear to surprise them in the least. They
were all good friends again next day.
By the time I arrived back Herr and Frau Nowak had prob-
ably been asleep for two or three hours. Otto generally arrived
later still. Yet Herr Nowak, who resented so much else in his
son's behaviour, never seemed to mind getting up and open-
ing the door to him, whatever the time of night. For some
strange reason, nothing would induce the Nowaks to let either
of us have a latchkey. They couldn't sleep unless the door was
bolted as well as locked.
THE NO WARS 1 25
In these tenements each lavatory served for four flats. Ours
was on the floor below. If, before retiring, I wished to relieve
nature, there was a second journey to be made through the
living-room in the dark to the kitchen, skirting the table,
avoiding the chairs, trying not to collide with the head of the
Nowaks' bed or jolt the bed in which Lothar and Grete were
sleeping. However cautiously I moved, Frau Nowak would
wake up : she seemed to be able to see me in the dark, and
embarrassed me with polite directions : 'No, Herr Christoph -
not there, if you please. In the bucket on the left, by the stove.'
Lying in bed, in the darkness, in my tiny corner of the enor-
mous human warren of the tenements, I could hear, with un-
canny precision, every sound which came up from the court-
yard below. The shape of the court must have acted as a gramo-
phone-horn. There was someone going downstairs : our neigh-
bour, Herr Miiller, probably : he had a night-shift on the rail-
way. I listened to his steps getting fainter, flight by flight;
then they crossed the court, clear and sticky on the wet stone.
Straining my ears, I heard, or fancied I heard, the grating of
the key in the lock of the big street door. A moment later, the
door closed with a deep, hollow boom. And now, from the next
room, Frau Nowak had an outburst of coughing. In the silence
which followed it, Lothar's bed creaked as he turned over
muttering something indistinct and threatening in his sleep.
Somewhere on the other side of the court a baby began to
scream, a window was slammed to, something very heavy, deep
in the innermost recesses of the building, thudded dully against
a wall. It was alien and mysterious and uncanny, like sleeping
out in the jungle alone.
Sunday was a long day at the Nowaks. There was nowhere to
go in this wretched weather. We were all of us at home. Grete
and Herr Nowak were watching a trap for sparrows which
Herr Nowak had made and fixed up in the window. They sat
there, hour by hour, intent upon it. The string which worked
the trap was in Grete's hand. Occasionally, they giggled at
each other and looked at me. I was sitting on the opposite side
of the table, frowning at a piece of paper on which I had writ-
126 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
ten : ^But, Edward, can't you seeTl was trying to get on with
my novel. It was about a family who lived in a large country
house on unearned incomes and were very unhappy. They
spent their time explaining to each other why they couldn't
enjoy their lives; and some of the reasons - though I say it
myself - were most ingenious. Unfortunately I found myself
taking less and less interest in my unhappy family : the atmo-
sphere of the Nowak household was not very inspiring. Otto,
in the inner room with the door open, was amusing himself
by balancing ornaments on the turntable of an old gramo-
phone, which was now minus sound-box and tone-arm, to see
how long it would be before they flew off and smashed. Lothar
was filing keys and mending locks for the neighbours, his pale
sullen face bent over his work in obstinate concentration. Frau
Nowak, who was cooking, began a sermon about the Good and
the Worthless Brother : 'Look at Lothar. Even when he's out
of a job he keeps himself occupied. But all you're good for is
to smash things. You're no son of mine.'
Otto lolled sneering on his bed, occasionally spitting out
an obscene word or making a farting noise with his lips.
Certain tones of his voice were maddening : they made one
want to hurt him - and he knew it. Frau Nowak*s shrill scold-
ing rose to a scream :
I've a good mind to turn you out of the house ! What have
you ever done for us? When there's any work going you're too
tired to do it; but you're not too tired to go gallivanting about
half the night - you wicked unnatural good-for-nothing . . .'
Otto sprang to his feet, and began dancing about the room
with cries of animal triumph. Fraw Nowak picked up a piece of
soap and flung it at him. He dodged, and it smashed the
window. After this Frau Nowak sat down and began to cry.
Otto ran to her at once and began to soothe her with noisy
kisses. Neither Lothar nor Herr Nowak took much notice of
the row. Herr Nowak seemed even rather to have enjoyed it :
he winked at me slyly. Later, the hole in the window was stop-
ped with a piece of cardboard. It remained unmended; adding
one more to the many draughts in the attic.
During supper, we were all jolly. Herr Nowak got up from
THE NO WARS 1 27
the table to give imitations of the different ways in which Jews
and Catholics pray. He fell down on his knees and bumped his
head several times vigorously on the ground, gabbling nonsense
which was supposed to represent Hebrew and Latin prayers :
'Koolyvotchka, koolyvotchka, koolyvotchka. Amen.' Then he
told stories of executions, to the horror and deHght of Grete
and Frau Nowak : *William the First - the old William - never
signed a death-warrant; and do you know why? Because once,
quite soon after he'd come to the throne, there was a cele-
brated murder-case and for a long time the judges couldn't
agree whether the prisoner was guilty or innocent, but at last
they condemned him to be executed. They put him on the
scaffold and the executioner took his axe - so; and swung it -
like this; and brought it down: Kernackl (They're all trained
men, of course : You or I couldn't cut a man's head off with one
stroke, if they gave us a thousand marks.) And the head
fell into the basket - flop I ' Herr Nowak rolled up his eyesj
let his tongue hang out from the corner of his mouth and gave
a really most vivid and disgusting imitation of the decapi-
tated head : *And then the head spoke, all by itself, and said :
"I am innocent!" (Of course, it was only the nerves; but it
spoke, just as plainly as I'm speaking now.) "I am innocent ! " it
said . . . And a few months later, another man confessed on his
death-bed that he'd been the real murderer. So, after that,
William never signed a death-warrant again!'
In the Wassertorstrasse one week was much like another.
Our leaky stuffy little attic smelt of cooking and bad drains.
When the living-room stove was alight, we could hardly
breathe; when it wasn't we froze. The weather had turned very
cold. Frau Nowak tramped the streets, when she wasn't at
work, from the clinic to the board of health offices and back
again : for hours she waited on benches in draughty corridors
or puzzled over complicated application-forms. The doctors
couldn't agree about her case. One was in favour of sending her
to a sanatorium at once. Another thought she was too far gone
to be worth sending at all - and told her so. Another assured
her that there was nothing serious the matter: she merely
128 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
needed a fortnight in the Alps. Frau Nowak listened to all
three of them with the greatest respect and never failed to im-
press upon me, in describing these interviews, that each was
the kindest and cleverest professor to be found in the whole of
She returned home, coughing and shivering, with sodden
shoes, exhausted and semi-hysterical. No sooner was she inside
the flat than she began scolding at Grete or at Otto, quite
automatically, like a clockwork doll unwinding its spring :
*You mark my words - you'll end in prison ! I wish I'd
packed you off to a reformatory when you were fourteen. It
might have done you some good And to think that, in my
whole family, we've never had anybody before who wasn't
respectable and decent ! '
"You respectable ! ' Otto sneered : *When you were a girl you
went around with every pair of trousers you could find.'
*I forbid you to speak to me like that ! Do you hear? I forbid
you ! Oh, I wish I'd died before I bore you, you wicked, urt-
natural child ! '
Otto skipped around her, dodging her blows, wild with glee
at the row he had started. In his excitement he pulled hideous
*He's mad ! ' exclaimed Frau Nowak : *Just look at him now,
Herr Christoph. I ask you, isn't he just a raving madman?
I must take him to the hospital to be examined.'
This idea appealed to Otto's romantic imagination. Often,
when we were alone together, he would tell me with tears in his
*I shan't be here much longer, Christoph. My nerves are
breaking down. Very soon they'll come and take me away.
They'll put me in a strait-waistcoat and feed me through a
rubber tube. And when you come to visit me, I shan't know
who you are.'
Frau Nowak and Otto were not the only ones with *nerves.'
Slowly but surely the Nowaks were breaking down my powers
of resistance. Every day I found the smell from the kitchen
sink a little nastier : every day Otto's voice when quarrelling
seemed harsher and his mother's a little shriller. Crete's whine
THE NO WARS 1 29
made me set my teeth. When Otto slammed a door I winced
irritably. At nights I couldn't get to sleep unless I was half
drunk. Also, I was secretly worrying about an unpleasant and
mysterious rash : it might be due to Frau Nowak's cooking, or
I now spent most of my evenings at the Alexander Casino.
At a table in the corner by the stove I wrote letters, talked to
Pieps and Gerhardt or simply amused myself by watching the
other guests. The place was usually very quiet. We all sat
round or lounged at the bar, waiting for something to happen.
No sooner came the sound of the outer door than a dozen pairs
of eyes were turned to see what new visitor would emerge from
behind the leather curtain. Generally, it was only a biscuit-seller
with his basket, or a Salvation Army girl with her collecting-
box and tracts. If the biscuit-seller had been doing good busi-
ness or was drunk he would throw dice with us for packets of
sugar-wafers. As for the Salvation Army girl, she rattled her
way drably round the room, got nothing and departed, without
making us feel in the least uncomfortable. Indeed, she had
become so much a part of the evening's routine that Gerhardt
and Pieps did not even make jokes about her when she was
gone. Then an old man would shuffle in, whisper something to
the barman and retire with him into the room behind the bar.
He was a cocaine-addict. A moment later he reappeared, raised
his hat to all of us with a vague courteous gesture, and shuffled
out. The old man had a nervous tic and kept shaking his head
all the time, as if saying to Life : No. No. No.
Sometimes the police came, looking for wanted criminals
or escaped reformatory boys. Their visits were usually expected
and prepared for. At any rate you could always, as Pieps ex-
plained to me, make a last-minute exit through the lavatory
window into the courtyard at the back of the house : *But you
must be careful, Christoph,' he added : *Take a good big jump.
Or you'll fall down the coal-shoot and into the cellar. I did,
once. And Hamburg Werner, who was coming after me,
laughed so much that the bulls caught him.'
On Saturday and Sunday evenings the Alexander Casino
was full. Visitors from the West End arrived, like ambassadors
130 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
from another country. There were a good number of foreigners
- Dutchmen mostly, and Englishmen. The EngUshmen talked
in loud, high, excited voices, they discussed communism and
Van Gogh and the best restaurants. Some of them seemed a
little scared : perhaps they expected to be knifed in this den
of thieves. Pieps and Gerhardt sat at their tables and mimicked
their accents, cadging drinks and cigarettes. A stout man in
horn spectacles asked : *Were you at that delicious party Bill
gave for the negro singers?' And a young man with a monocle
murmured: *A11 the poetry in the world is in that face.' I
knew what he was feeling at that moment : I could sympathize
with, even envy him. But it was saddening to know that, two
weeks hence, he would boast about his exploits here to a select
party of clubmen or dons - warmed discreet smilers around a
table furnished with historic silver and legendary port. It made
me feel older.
At last the doctors made up their minds : Frau Nowak was
to be sent to the sanatorium after all : and quite soon ~ shortly
before Christmas. As soon as she heard this she ordered a new
dress from the tailor. She was as excited and pleased as if she
had been invited to a party: *The matrons are always very
particular, you know, Herr Christoph. They see to it that we
keep ourselves neat and tidy. If we don't we get punished - and
quite right, too . . . I'm sure I shall enjoy being there,' Frau
Nowak sighed, *if only I can stop myself worrying about the
family. What they'll do when I'm gone, goodness only knows.
They're as helpless as a lot of sheep . . .' In the evenings she
spent hours stitching warm flannel underclothes, smiling to
herself, like a woman who is expecting a child.
On the afternoon of my departure Otto was very depressed.
*Now you're going, Christoph, I don't know what'll happen
to me. Perhaps, six months from now, I shan't be alive at
*You got on all right before I came, didn't you?'
'Yes . . . but now mother's going, too. I don't suppose father'll
give me anything to eat.'
THE NO WARS I3I
Take me with you, Christoph. Let me be your servant. I
could be very useful, you know. I could cook for you and mend
your clothes and open the door for your pupils . . .' Otto's eyes
brightened as he admired himself in this new role. I'd wear a
little white jacket - or perhaps blue would be better, with silver
buttons . . .'
I'm afraid you're a luxury I can't afford.'
*0h, but, Christoph, I shouldn't want any wages, of course.'
Otto paused, feeling that this offer had been a bit too generous.
*That is,' he added cautiously, *only just a mark or two to go
dancing, now and then.'
I'm very sorry.'
We were interrupted by the return of Frau Nowak. She had
come home early to cook me a farewell meal. Her string-bag
was full of things she had bought; she had tired herself out
carrying it. She shut the kitchen-door behind her with a sigh
and began to bustle about at once, her nerves on edge, ready
for a row.
*Why, Otto, you've let the stove go out ! After I specially told
you to keep an eye on it ! Oh, dear, can't I rely on anybody in
this house to help me with a single thing?'
*Sorry, mother,' said Otto. *I forgot.'
*Of course you forgot! Do you ever remember anything?
You forgot ! ' Frau Nowak screamed at him, her features puck-
ered into a sharp little stabbing point of fury : I've worked my-
self into my grave for you, and that's my thanks. When I'm
gone I hope your father'll turn you out into the streets. We'll
see how you like that! You great, lazy, hulking lump! Get
out of my sight, do you hear ! Get out of my sight ! '
*A11 right. Christoph, you hear what she says?' Otto turned
to me, his face convulsed with rage; at that moment the re-
semblance between them was quite startling; they were like
creatures demoniacally possessed. *I'll make her sorry for it as
long as she lives ! '
He turned and plunged into the inner bedroom, slamming
the rickety door behind him. Frau Nowak turned at once to
the stove and began shovelling out the cinders. She was trem-
132 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
bUng all over and coughing violently. I helped her, putting fire-
wood and pieces of coal into her hands; she took them from
me blindly, without a glance or a word. Feeling, as usual, that I
was only in the way. I went into the living-room and stood
stupidly by the window, wishing that I could simply disappear.
I had had enough. On the window-sill lay a stump of pencil. I
picked it up and drew a small circle on die wood, thinking : I
have left my mark. Then I remembered how I had done exactly
the same thing, years ago, before leaving a boarding-house in
North Wales. In the inner room all was quiet. I decided to con-
front Otto's sulks. I had still got my suit-cases to pack.
When I opened the door Otto was sitting on his bed. He was
staring as if hypnotized at a gash in his left wrist, from which
the blood was trickling down over his open palm and spilling in
big drops on the floor. In his right hand, between finger and
thumb, he held a safety-razor blade. He didn't resist when I
snatched it from him. The wound itself was nothing much; I
bandaged it with his handkerchief. Otto seemed to turn faint
for a moment and lolled against my shoulder.
*How on earth did you manage to do it?'
*I wanted to show her,' said Otto. He was very pale. He had
evidently given himself a nasty scare: *You shouldn't have
stopped me, Christoph.'
*You little idiot,' I said angrily, for he had frightened me,
too: *One of these days you'll really hurt yourself - by mis-
Otto gave me a long, reproachful look. Slowly his eyes filled
*What does it matter, Christoph? I'm no good . . . What'll be-
come of me, do you suppose, when I'm older?'
Tou'U get work.'
Work . . .' The very thought made Otto burst into tears.
Sobbing violently, he smeared the back of his hand across
I pulled out the handkerchief from my pocket. *Here. Take
Thanks, Christoph . . .' He wiped his eyes mournfully and
blew his nose. Then something about the handkerchief itself
THE NOWAKS 1 33
caught his attention, he began to examine it, lisdessly at first,
then with extreme interest.
*Why, Christoph,' he exclaimed indignantiy, *this is one of
One afternoon, a few days after Christmas, I visited the
Wassertorstrasse again. The lamps were alight already, as I
turned in under the archway and entered the long, damp street,
patched here and there with dirty snow. Weak yellow gleams
shone out from the cellar shops. At a hand-cart under a gas-
flare, a cripple was selling vegetables and fruit. A crowd of
youtiis, with raw, sullen faces, stood watching two boys fight-
ing at a doorway : a girl's voice screamed excitedly as one of
them tripped and fell. Crossing the muddy courtyard, inhaling
the moist, familiar rottenness of the tenement buildings, I
thought: Did I really ever live here? Already, with my com-
fortable bed-sitting room in the West End and my excellent
new job, I had become a stranger to the slums.
The lights on the Nowaks' staircase were out of order : it
was pitch-dark. I groped my way upstairs without much diffi-
culty an4 banged on their door. I made as much noise as I could
because, to judge from the shouting and singing and shrieks
of laughter within, a party was in progress.
'Who's there?' bawled Herr Nowak's voice.
*Aha! Christoph! Anglais! EnglischMan! Come in! Come
The door was flung open. Herr Nowak swayed unsteadily on
the threshold, with arms open to embrace me. Behind him
stood Grete, shaking like a jelly, with tears of laughter pouring
down her cheeks. There was nobody else to be seen.
*Good old Christoph ! ' cried Herr Nowak, thumping me on
the back. *I said to Grete : I know he'll come. Christoph won't
desert us!' With a large burlesque gesture of welcome he
pushed me violently into the living-room. The whole place was
fearfully untidy. Clothing of various kinds lay in a confused
heap on one of the beds; on the other were scattered cups,
saucers, shoes, kinves and forks. On the sideboard was a frying-
134 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
pan full of dried fat. The room was lighted by three candles
stuck into empty beer-bottles.
*A11 light's been cut off,' explained Herr Nowak, with a negli-
gent sweep of his arm : 'The bill isn't paid . . . Must pay it
sometime, of course. Never mind - it's nicer like this, isn't it?
Come on, Grete, let's light up the Christmas tree.'
The Christmas tree was the smallest I had ever seen. It was
so tiny and feeble that it could only carry one candle, at the
very top. A single thin strand of tinsel was draped around it.
Herr Nowak dropped several lighted matches on the floor be-
fore he could get the candle to burn. If I hadn't stamped them
out the table-cloth might easily have caught fire.
* Where are Lothar and Otto?' I asked.
*Don't know. Somewhere about . . . They don't show them-
selves much, nowadays - it doesn't suit them, here . . . Never
mind, we're quite happy by ourselves, aren't we Grete?' Herr
Nowak executed a few elephantine dance-steps and began to
*0 Tannenbatim! O Tarmenbaumf . . . Come on, Christoph,
all together now ! Wie treu sind Deine Blatter!'
After this was over I produced my presents : cigars for Herr
Nowak, for Grete chocolates and a clockwork mouse. Herr
Nowak then brought out a bottle of beer from under the bed.
After a long search for his spectacles, which were finally dis-
covered hanging on the water-tap in the kitchen, he read me a
letter which Frau Nowak had written from the sanatorium.
He repeated every sentence three or four times, got lost in
the middle, swore, blew his nose, and picked his ears. I could
hardly understand a word. Then he and Grete began playing
with the clockwork mouse, letting it run about the table,
shrieking and roaring whenever it neared the edge. The mouse
was such a success that my departure was managed briefly,
without any fuss. 'Good-bye, Christoph. Come again soon,' said
Herr Nowak and turned back to the table at once. He and Grete
were bending over it with the eagerness of gamblers as I
made my way out of the attic.
Not long after this I had a call from Otto himself. He had
THE NO WARS I35
come to ask me if I would go with him the next Sunday to see
Frau Nowak. The sanatorium had its monthly visiting-day:
there would be a special bus running from Hallesches Tor.
Tou needn't pay for me, you know,' Otto added grandly. He
was fairly shining with self-satisfaction.
That's very handsome of you. Otto ... A new suit?'
*Do you like it?'
*It must have cost a good bit.'
*Two hundred and fifty marks.'
*My word! Has your ship come home?'
*Otto smirked : I'm seeing a lot of Trude now. Her uncle's
left her some money. Perhaps, in the spring, we'll get married.'
^Congratulations ... I suppose you're still living at home?'
*Oh, I look in there occasionally,' Otto drew down the corners
of his mouth in a grimace of languid distaste, *but father's
'Disgusting, isn't it?' I mimicked his tone. We both laughed.
*My goodness, Christoph, is it as late as that? I must be get-
ting along . . . Till Sunday. Be good.'
We arrived at the sanatorium about midday.
There was a bumpy cart-track winding for several kilometres
through snowy pine-woods and then, suddenly, a Gothic brick
gateway like the entrance to a churchyard, with big red build-
ings rising behind. The bus stopped. Otto and I were the last
passengers to get out. We stood stretching ourselves and blink-
ing at the bright snow : out here in the country everything was
dazzling white. We were all very stijff, for the bus was only a
covered van, with packing-cases and school-benches for seats.
The seats had not shifted much during the journey, for we
had been packed together as tighdy as books on a shelf.
And now the patients came running out to meet us - awk-
ward padded figures muffled in shawls and blankets, stumbling
and slithering on the trampled ice of the path. They were in
such a hurry that their blundering charge ended in a slide.
They shot skidding into the arms of their friends and relations,
who staggered under the violence of the collision. One couple,
amid shrieks of laughter, had tumbled over.
136 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
*So you've really come ! How well you're looking ! '
*0f course we've come, mother! What did you expect?'
Frau Nowak disengaged herself from Otto to shake hands with
me. *How do you do, Herr Christoph?'
She looked years younger. Her plump, oval, innocent face,
lively and a trifle crafty, with its small peasant eyes, was like the
face of a young girl. Her cheeks were brightly dabbed with
colour. She smiled as though she could never stop.
*Ah, Herr Christoph, how nice of you to come ! How nice of
you to bring Otto to visit me ! '
She uttered a brief, queer, hysterical little laugh. We mounted
some steps into the house. The smell of the warm, clean, anti-
septic building entered my nostrils like a breath of fear.
'They've put me in one of the smaller wards,' Frau Nowak
told us. 'There's only four of us altogether. We get up to all
sorts of games.' Proudly throwing open the door, she made
the introductions : 'This is Muttchen - she keeps us in order !
And this is Erna. And this is Erika - our baby ! '
Erika was a weedy blonde girl of eighteen, who giggled:
'So here's the famous Otto! We've been looking forward to
seeing him for weeks ! '
Otto smiled subtly, discreetly, very much at his ease. His
brand new brown suit was vulgar beyond words; so were his
lilac spats and his pointed yellow shoes. On his finger was an
enormous signet-ring with a square, chocolate-coloured stone.
Otto was extremely conscious of it and kept posing his hand in
graceful attitudes, glancing down furtively to admire the effect.
Frau Nowak simply couldn't leave him alone. She must keep
hugging him and pinching his cheeks.
'Doesn't he look well!' she exclaimed. 'Doesn't he look
splendid! Why, Otto^ you're so big and strong, I believe you
could pick me up with one hand ! '
Old Muttchen had a cold, they said. She wore a bandage
round her throat, tight under the high collar of her old-
fashioned black dress. She seemed a nice old lady, but somehow
slightly obscene, like an old dog with sores. She sat on the edge
THE NOWAKS 1 37
of her bed with the photographs of her children and grand-
children on the table beside her, like prizes she had won. She
looked slyly pleased, as though she were glad to be so ill. Frau
Nowak told us that Muttchen had been three times in this
sanatorium already. Each time she had been discharged as
cured, but within nine months or a year she would have a re-
lapse and have to be sent back again.
*Some of the cleverest professors in Germany have come
here to examine her,' Frau Nowak added, with pride, *but you
always fool them, don't you, Muttchen dear?'
The old lady nodded, smiling, like a clever child which is
being praised by its elders.
*And Erna is here for the second time,' Frau Nowak con-
tinued. *The doctors said she'd be all right; but she didn't get
enough to eat. So now she's come back to us, haven't you,
*Yes, I've come back,' Erna agreed.
She was a skinny, bobbed-haired woman of about thirty-five,
who must once have been very feminine, appealing, wistful,
and soft. Now, in her extreme emaciation, she seemed pos-
sessed by a kind of desperate resolution, a certain defiance.
She had immense, dark, hungry eyes. The wedding-ring was
loose on her bony finger. When she talked and became excited
her hands flitted tirelessly about in sequences of aimless
gestures, like two shrivelled moths.
*My husband beat me and then ran away. The night he went
he gave me such a thrashing that I had the marks afterwards
for months. He was such a great strong man. He nearly killed
me.' She spoke calmly, deliberately, yet with a certain sup-
pressed excitement, never taking her eyes from my face. Her
hungry glance bored into my brain, reading eagerly what I
was thinking. 1 dream about him now, sometimes,' she added,
as if faintly amused.
Otto and I sat down at the table while Frau Nowak fussed
around us with coffee and cakes which one of the sisters had
brought. Everything which happened to me to-day was cur-
iously without impact; my senses were muffled, insulated,
functioning as if in a vivid dream. In this calm, white room,
138 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
with its great windows looking out over the silent snowy pine-
woods - the Christmas-tree on the table, the paper festoons
above the beds, the nailed-up photographs, the plate of heart-
shaped chocolate biscuits - these four women lived and moved.
My eyes could explore every corner of their world : the tem-
perature-charts, the fire extinguisher, the leather screen by the
door. Dressed daily in their best clothes, their clean hands no
longer pricked by the needle or roughened from scrubbing,
they lay out on the terrace, listening to the wireless, forbidden
to talk. Woman being shup up together in this room had bred
an atmosphere which was faintly nauseating, like soiled linen
locked in a cupboard without air. They were playful with each
other and shrill, like overgrown schoolgirls. Frau Nowak and
Erika indulged in sudden furtive bouts of ragging. They
plucked at each other's clothes, scuffled silently, exploded into
shrilly strained laughter .They were showing off in front of us.
*You don't know how we've looked forward to to-day,' Erna
told me. *To see a real live man ! '
Frau Nowak giggled.
*Erika was such an innocent girl until she came here . . . You
didn't know anything, did you, Erika?'
I've learnt enough since then . . .'
*Yes, I should think you have ! Would you believe it, Herr
Christoph - her aunt sent her this little mannikin for Christ-
mas, and now she takes it to bed with her every night, because
she says she must have a man in her bed ! '
Erika laughed boldly. *Well, it's better than nothing, isn't it?'
She winked at Otto, who rolled his eyes, pretending to be
After lunch Frau Nowak had to put in an hour's rest. So Erna
and Erika took possession of us for a walk in the grounds.
*We'll show them the cemetery first,' Erna said.
The cemetery was for pet animals belonging to the sana-
torium staff which had died. There were about a dozen Uttle
crosses and tombstones, pencilled with mock-heroic inscrip-
tions in verse. Dead birds were buried there and white mice
THE NOWAKS 1 39
and rabbits, and a bat which had been found frozen after a
*It makes you feel sad to think of them lying there, doesn't
it?' said Erna. She scooped away the snow from one of the
graves. There were tears in her eyes.
But, as we walked away down the path, both she and Erika
were very gay. We laughed and threw snowballs at each other.
Otto picked up Erika and pretended he was going to throw
her into a snowdrift. A Uttle further on we passed close to a
summer-house, standing back from the path on a mound
among the trees. A man and a woman were just coming out of
That's Frau Klemke,' Erna told me. *She's got her hus-
band here to-day. Just think, that old hut's the only place in
the whole grounds where two people can be alone together . . .'
*It must be pretty cold in this weather.'
*Of course it is! To-morrow her temperature will be up
again and she'll have to stay in bed for a fortnight . . . But who
cares! If I were in her place I'd do the same myself.' Erna
squeezed my arm : *We've got to live while we're young, haven't
*Of course we have ! '
Erna looked up quickly into my face; her big dark eyes fast-
ened on to mine like hooks; I could imagine I felt them pulling
I'm not really a consumptive, you know, Christoph . . . You
didn't think I was, did you, just because I'm here?'
*No, Erna, of course I didn't.'
'Lots of the girls here aren't. They just need looking after for
a bit, like me . . . The doctor says that if I take care of myself
I shall be as strong as ever I was . . . And what do you think
the first thing is I shall do when they let me out of here?'
'First I shall get my divorce, and then I shall find a husband.'
Erna laughed, with a kind of bitter triumph. 'That won't take
me long - I can promise you ! '
After tea we sat upstairs in the ward. Frau Nowak had
140 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
borrowed a gramophone so that we could dance. I danced with
Erna. Erika danced with Otto. She was tomboyish and
clumsy, laughing loudly whenever she slipped or trod on his
toes. Otto, sleekly smiling, steered her backwards and forwards
with skill, his shoulders hunched in the fashionable chimpan-
zee stoop of Hallesches Tor. Old Muttchen sat looking on from
her bed. When I held Erna in my arms I felt her shivering all
over. It was almost dark now, but nobody suggested turning on
the light. After a while we stopped dancing and sat round in
a circle on the beds. Frau Nowak had begun to talk about her
childhood days, when she had lived with her parents on a farm
in East Prussia. *We had a saw-mill of our own,' she told us,
*and thirty horses. My father's horses were the best in the dis-
trict; he won prizes with them, many a time, at the show . . .'
the ward was quite dark now. The windows were big pale rect-
angles in the darkness. Erna, sitting beside me on the bed, felt
down for my hand and squeezed it; then she reached behind me
and drew my arm round her body. She was trembling violently.
*Christoph . . .' she whispered in my ear.
'. . . and in the summer time,' Frau Nowak was saying, *we
used to go dancing in the big barn down by the river . . .'
My mouth pressed against Ema's hot, dry lips. I had no
particular sensation of contact : all this was part of the long,
rather sinister symbolic dream which I seemed to have been
dreaming throughout the day. Tm so happy, this evening . . .'
The postmaster's son used to play the fiddle,' said Frau
Nowak. *He played beautifully ... it made you want to cry . . .'
From the bed on which Erika and Otto were sitting came
sounds of scuffling and a loud snigger : *Otto, you naughty boy
. . . I'm surprised at you ! I shall tell your mother ! '
Five minutes later a sister came to teU us that the bus was
ready to start.
*My word, Christoph,' Otto whispered to me, as we were put-
ting on our overcoats, 'I could have done anything I liked with
that girl ! I felt her all over . . . Did you have a good time with
yours? A bit skinny, wasn't she - but I bet she's hot stuff ! '
THE NOWAKS I4I
Then we were clambering into the bus with the other pas-
sengers. The patients crowded round to say good-bye. Wrapped
and hooded in their blankets, they might have been the mem-
bers of an aboriginal forest tribe.
Frau Nowak had begim crying, though she tried hard to
*Tell father I'll be back soon . . .'
*0f course you will, mother ! You'll soon be well now. You'll
soon be home.'
*It's only a short time . . .' sobbed Frau Nowak; the tears run-
ning down over her hideous frog-like smile. And suddenly she
started coughing - her body seemed to break in half like a
hinged doll. Gasping her hands over her breast, she uttered
short yelping coughs like a desperate injured animal. The
blanket slipped back from her head and shoulders : a wisp of
hair, working loose from the knot, was getting into her eyes
- she shook her head blindly to avoid it. Two sisters gently
tried to lead her away, but at once she began to struggle furi-
ously. She wouldn't go with them.
*Go in, mother,' begged Otto. He was almost in tears him-
self. Tlease go in ! You'll catch your death of cold ! '
* Write to me sometimes, won't you, Christoph?' Erna was
clutching my hand as though she were drowning. Her eyes
looked up at me with a terrifying intensity of unashamed des-
pair. 'It doesn't matter if it's only a postcard . . . just sign your
*Of course I will . . .'
They all thronged round us for a moment in the little circle
of light from the panting bus, their lit faces ghastly like ghosts
against the black stems of the pines. This was the climax of
my dream : the instant of nightmare in which it would end. I
had an absurb pang of fear that they were going to attack us
- a gang of terrifyingly soft muffled shapes - clawing us
from our seats, dragging us hungrily down, in dead silence.
But the moment passed. They drew back - harmless, after all,
as mere ghosts - into the darkness, while our bus, with a great
churning of its wheels, lurched forward towards the city,
through the deep unseen snow.
One night in October 1930, about a month after the Elections,
there was a big row on the Leipzigerstrasse. Gangs of Nazi
roughs turned out to demonstrate against the Jews. They
manhandled some dark-haired, large-nosed pedestrians, and
smashed the windows of all the Jewish shops. The incident was
not, in itself, very remarkable; there were no deaths, very
little shooting, not more than a couple of dozen arrests. I re-
member it only because it was my first introduction to Berlin
Frl. Mayr, of course, was delighted: *Serve them right!'
she exclaimed. This town is sick with Jews. Turn over any
stone, and a couple of them will crawl out. They're poisoning
the very water we drink! They're strangling us, they're rob-
bing us, they're sucking our life-blood. Look at all the big
department stores: Wertheim, K.D.W., Landauers'. Who
owns them? Filthy thieving Jews ! '
The Landauers are personal friends of mine,' I retorted
icily, and left the room before Frl. Mayr had time to think of
a suitable reply.
This wasn't strictly true. As a matter of fact, I had never
met any member of the Landauer family in my life. But,
before leaving England, I had been given a letter of intro-
duction to them by a mutual friend. I mistrust letters of
introduction, and should probably never have used this one,
if it hadn't been for Frl. Mayr's remark. Now, perversely, I
decided to write to Frau Landauer at once.
Natalia Landauer, as I saw her, for the first time, three
days later, was a schoolgirl of eighteen. She had dark fluffy
hair; far too much of it ~ it made her face, with its sparkling
eyes, appear too long and too narrow. She reminded me of a
young fox. She shook hands straight from the shoulder in the
THE LANDAUERS I43
modern student manner. *In here, please.' Her tone was per-
emptory and brisk. ^
The sitting-room was large and cheerful, pre- War in taste, a
little over-furnished. Natalia had begun talking at once, with
terrific animation, in eager stumbling English, showing me
gramophone records, pictures, books. I wasn't allowed to look
at anything for more than a moment :
*You like Mozart? Yes? Oh, I also ! Vairy much! . . . These
picture is in the Kronprinz Palast. You have not seen it? I
shall show you one day, yes? ... You are fond of Heine? Say
quite truthfully, please.' She looked up from the bookcase,
smiling, but with a certain schoolmarm severity : *Read. It's
beautiful, I find.'
I hadn't been in the house for more than a quarter of an
hour before Natalia had put aside four books for me to take
with me when I left -- Tonio Kriiger^ Jacobsen's stories, a
volume of Stefan George, Goethe's letters. Tou are to tell me
your truthful opinion,' she warned me.
Suddenly a maid parted the sliding glass doors at the end of
the room, and we found ourselves in the presence of Frau
Landauer, a large, pale woman with a mole on her left cheek
and her hair brushed back smooth into a knot, seated placidly
at the dining-room table, filling glasses from a samovar with
tea. There were plates of ham and cold cut wurst and a bowl of
those thin wet slippery sausages which squirt you with hot
water when their skins are punctured by a fork; as well as
cheese, radishes, pumpernickel and bottled beer. Tou will
drink beer,' Natalia ordered, returning one of the glasses of
tea to her mother.
Looking roimd me, I noticed that the few available wall-
spaces between pictures and cupboards were decorated with
eccentric life-sized figures, maidens with flying hair or oblique-
eyed gazelles, cut out of painted paper and fastened down
with drawing-pins. They made a comically ineffectual protest
against the bourgeois solidity of the mahogany furniture. I
knew, without being told, that Natalia must have designed
them. Yes, she'd made them and fixed them up there for a
party; now she wanted to take them down, but her mother
144 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
wouldn't let her. They had a little argument about this -
evidently part of the domestic routine. *Ohj but they're
tairrible, I find!' cried Natalia, in English. *I think they're
very pretty,' replied Frau Landauer placidly, in German,
without raising her eyes from the plate, her mouth full of
pumpernickel and radish.
As soon as we had finished supper, Natalia made it clear
that I was to say a formal good-night to Frau Landauer. We
then returned to the sitting-room. She began to cross-examine
me. Where was my room? How much was I paying for it?
When I told her, she said immediately that I'd chosen quite the
wrong district (Wilmersdorf was far better), and that I'd been
swindled. I could have got exactly the same thing, with run-
ning water and central heating thrown in, for the same price.
Tou should have asked me,' she added, apparently quite for-
getting that we'd met that evening for the first time: *I
should have found it for you myself.'
Tour friend tells us you are a writer?' Natalia challenged
*Not a real writer,' I protested.
'But you have written a book? Ye^?'
Yes, I had a written a book.
Natalia was triumphant: Tou have written a book and
you say you are not a writer. You are mad, I think.'
Then I had to tell her the whole history of All The
Conspirators, why it had that title, what it was about, when
it was published, and so forth.
Tou will bring me a copy, please.'
*I haven't got one,' I told her, with satisfaction, *and it's out
This rather dashed Natalia for the moment, then she sniffed
eagerly at a new scent: *And this what you will write in
Berlin? Tell me, please.'
To satisfy her, I began to tell the story of a story I had
written years before, for a college magazine at Cambridge. I
improved it as much as possible extempore, as I went along.
Telling this story again quite excited me - so much so that I
began to feel that the idea in it hadn't been so bad after all,
THE LANDAUERS 1 45
and that I might really be able to rewrite it. At the end of
every sentence, Natalia pressed her lips tight together and
nodded her head so violently that the hair flopped up and
down over her face.
Tes, yes,' she kept saying. Tes, yes.'
It was only after some minutes that I realized she wasn't
taking in anything I said. She evidently couldn't understand
my English, for I was talking much faster now, and not choos-
ing my words. In spite of her tremendous devotional effort
of concentration, I could see that she was noticing the way
I parted my hair, and that my tie was worn shiny at the knot.
She even flashed a furtive glance at my shoes. It would have
been rude to stop short and most imkind to spoil Natalia's
pleasure in the mere fact that I was talking so intimately to
her about something which really interested me, although we
were practically strangers.
When I had finished, she asked at once: *And it will be
ready - how soon?' For she had taken possession of the story,
together with all my odier affairs. I answered that I didn't
know. I was lazy.
'You ^re lazy?' Natalia opened her eyes mockingly. *So?
Then I am sorry. I can't help you.'
Presently, I said that I must go. She came with me to the
door : *And you will bring me this story soon,' she persisted.
*Next week,' I feebly promised.
It was a fortnight before I called on the Landauers again.
After dinner, when Frau Landauer had left the room, Nat-
alia informed me that we were to go together to the cinema.
*We are the guests of my mother.' As we stood up to go,
she suddenly grabbed two apples and an orange from the
sideboard and stuffed them into my pockets. She had evidently
made up her mind that I was suffering from undernourishment.
I protested weakly.
'When you say another word, I am angry,' she warned me.
'And you have brought it?' she asked, as we were leaving
146 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
Knowing perfectly well that she meant the story, I made
my voice as innocent as I could : ^Brought what?'
'You know. What you promised.'
*I don't remember promising anything.'
*Don't remember}' Natalie laughed scornfully. 'Then I'm
sorry. I can't help you.'
By the time we got to the cinema, she had forgiven me,
however. The big film was a Pat and Patachon. Natalia
remarked severely : 'You do not like this kind of fihn, I think?
It isn't something clever enough for you?'
I denied that I only liked 'clever' films, but she was sceptical :
'Good. We shall see.'
All through the film, she kept glancing at me to see if I
was laughing. At first, I laughed exaggeratedly. Then, getting
tired of this, I stopped laughing altogether. Natalia got more
and more impatient with me. Towards the end of the film, she
even began to nudge me at moments when I should laugh. No
sooner were the lights turned up, than she pounced :
'You see? I was right. You did not Uke it, no?'
'I liked it very much indeed.'
*0h yes, I believe ! And now say truthfully.'
'I have told you. I liked it.'
'But you did not laugh. You are sitting always with your
face so . . .' Natalia tried to imitate me, 'and not once laughing.'
'I never laugh when I am amused,' I said.
'Oh yes, perhaps! That shall be one of your English
customs, not to laugh?'
'No Englishman ever laughs when he's amused.'
'You wish I believe that? Then I will tell you your English-
men are mad.'
'That remark is not very original.'
'And must always my remarks be so original, my dear
'When you are with me, yes.'
We sat for a little in a cafe near the Zoo Station and ate ices.
The ices were lumpy and tasted slightly of potato. Suddenly,
Natalia began to talk about her parents :
THE LANDAUERS I47
*I do not understand what this modern books mean when
they say: the mother and father always must have quarrel
with the children. You know, it would be impossible that I
can have quarrel with my parents. Impossible.'
NataUa looked hard at me to see whether I believed this. I
^Absolute impossible,' she repeated solemnly. ^Because I
know that my father and my mother love me. And so they are
thinking always not of themselves but of what is for me the
best. My mother, you know, she is not strong. She is having
sometimes the most tairrible headaches. And then, of course,
I cannot leave her alone. Vairy often, I would like to go out to
a cinema or theatre or concert, and my mother, she say noth-
ing, but I look at her and see that she is not well, and so I say
No, I have change my mind, I will not go. But never it hap-
pens that she say one word about the pain she is suffered.
(When next I called on the Landauers, I spent two marks
fifty on roses for Natalia's mother. It was worth it. Never once
did Frau Landauer have a headache on an evening when I
proposed going out with Natalia.)
*My father will always that I have the best of everything,'
Natalia continued. *My father will always that I say: My
parents are rich, I do not need to think for money.' Natalia
sighed: *But I am different than this. I await always that
the worst will come. I know how things are in Germany to-
day, and suddenly it can be that my father lose all. You
know, that is happened once already? Before the war, my
father has had a big factory in Posen. The War comes, and
my father has to go. To-morrow, it can be here the same. But
my father, he is such a man that to him it is equal. He can
start with one pfennig and work and work until he gets all
*And that is why,' Natalia went on, *I wish to leave school
and begin to learn something useful, that I can win my bread.
I cannot know how long my parents have money. My father
will that I make my Abitur and go to the university. But now
I will speak with him and ask if I cannot go to Paris and study
148 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
art. If I can draw and paint I can perhaps make my life; and
also I will learn cookery. Do you know that I cannot cook, not
the simplest thing?'
^Neither can I.'
Tor a man, that is not so important, I find. But a girl
must be prepared for all.'
*If I want,' added Natalia earnestly, *I shall go away with the
man I love and I shall live with him; even if we cannot become
married it will not matter. Then I must be able to do all for
myself, you understand? It is not enough to say : I have made
my Abitur, I have my degree at the university. He will
answer: "Please, where is my dinner?" '
There was a pause.
*You are not shocked at what I say just now,' asked Natalia
suddenly. *That I would live with a man without that we were
*No, of course not.'
*Do not misunderstand me, please. I do not admirate the
women who is going always from one man to another - that is
aU so,' Natalia made a gesture of distaste, *so degenerated, I
*You don't think that women should be allowed to change
*I do not know. I do not understand such questions . . .
But it is degenerated.'
I saw her home. Natalia had a trick of leading you right
up on to the doorstep, and then, with extraordinary rapidity,
shaking hands, whisking into the house and slamming the
door in your face.
*You ring me up? Next week? Yes?' I can hear her voice
now. And then the door slammed and she was gone without
waiting for an answer.
Natalia avoided all contacts, direa and indirect. Just as she
wouldn't stand chatting with me on her own doorstep, she
preferred always, I noticed, to have a table between us if we
sat down. She hated me to help her into her coat: *I am
not yet sixty years, my dear sir!' If we stood up to leave a
THE LANDAUERS I 49
caf6 or a restaurant and she saw my eye moving towards the
peg from which her coat hung, she would pounce instantly
upon it and carry it off with her into a corner, like an animal
guarding its food.
One evening, we went into a cafe and ordered two cups of
chocolate. When the chocolate came, we found that the wait-
ress had forgotten to bring Natalia a spoon. I'd already sipped
my cup and had stirred it with my spoon after sipping it. It
seemed quite natural to offer my spoon to Natalia, and I was
surprised and a little impatient when she refused it with
an expression of slight distaste. She declined even this in-
direct contact with my mouth.
Natalia got tickets for a concert of Mozart concertos. The
evening was not a success. The severe Corinthian hall was
chilly, and my eyes were uncomfortably dazzled by the classic
brilliance of the electric lights. The shiny wooden chairs were
austerely hard. The audience plainly regarded the concert as
a religious ceremony. Their taut, devotional enthusiasm op-
pressed me like a headache; I couldn't, for a moment, lose
consciousness of all those blind half-frowning, listening heads.
And despite Mozart, I couldn't help feeling: What an
extraordinary way this is of spending an evening !
One the way home, I was tired and sulky, and this resulted
in a little tiff with Natalia. She began it by talking about
Hippi Bernstein. It was Natalia who had got me my job with
the Bernsteins: she and Hippi went to the same school. A
couple of days before, I had given Hippi her first English
*And how do you like her?' Natalia asked.
*Very much. Don't you?'
Tes, I also . . . But she's got two bad faults. I think you
will not have notice them yet?'
As I didn't rise to this, she added solemnly : *You know, I
wish you would tell me truthfully what are my faults?'
In another mood, I should have found this amusing, and
even rather touching. As it was, I only thought : *She's fish-
ing,' and snapped :
*I don't know what you mean by "faults." I don't judge
150 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
people on a half-term-report basis. You'd better ask one of
This shut Natalia up for the moment. But, presently, she
started again. Had I read any of the books she'd lent me?
I hadn't, but said: Yes, I'd read Jacobsen's Frau Marie
And what did you think of it?
*It's very good,' I said, peevish because guilty.
Natalia looked at me sharply: I'm afraid you are vairy
insincere. You do not give your real meaning.'
I was suddenly, childishly cross :
*0f course I don't. Why should I? Arguments bore me. I
don't intend to say anything which you're likely to disagree
*But if that is so,' she was really dismayed, *then it is no
use for us to speak of anything seriously.'
*0f course it isn't.'
*Then shall we not talk at all?' asked poor Natalia.
*The best of all,' I said, *would be for us to make noises Uke
farmyard animals. I like hearing the sound of your voice but
I don't care a bit what you're saying. So it'd be far better if
we just said Bow-wow and Baa and Meaow.^
Natalia flushed. She was bewildered and deeply hurt. Pre-
sently, after a long silence, she said : *Yes. I see.'
As we approached her house, I tried to patch things up and
turn the whole business into a joke, but she didn't respond. I
went home feeling very much ashamed of myself.
Some days after this, however, Natalia rang up of her own
accord and asked me to lunch. She opened the door herself -
she had evidently been waiting to do so - and greeted me by
exclaiming: *Bow-wow! Baa! Meaowl'
For a moment, I really thought she must have gone mad.
Then I remembered our quarrel. But Natalia, having made
her joke, was quite ready to be friends again.
We went into the sitting-room, and she began putting aspirin
tablets into the bowls of flowers - to revive them, she said. I
THE LANDAUERS I5I
asked what she'd been doing during the last few days.
*A11 this week,' said Natalia, *I am not going in the school.
I have been unwell. Three days ago, I stand by the piano, and
suddenly I fall down - so. How do you say - ohnmdchtigV
'You mean you fainted?'
Natalia nodded vigorously: *Yes, that's right. I am
*But in that case you ought to be in bed now.' I felt suddenly
very masculine and protective : *How are you feeling?'
Natalia laughed gaily, and, certainly, I had never seen her
looking better :
*0h it is not so important ! '
There is one thing I must tell you,' she added. *It shall be a
nice surprise for you, I think - to-day is coming my father,
and my cousin Bernhard.'
'How very nice.'
'Yes! Is it not? My father makes us great joy when he
comes, for now he is often on travel. He has much business
everywhere, in Paris, in Vienna, in Prague. Always he must
be going in the train. You shall like him, I think.'
'I'm certain I shall.'
And sure enough, when the glass doors parted, there was
Herr Landauer, waiting to receive me. Beside him stood
Bernhard Landauer, Natalia's cousin, a tall pale young man
in a dark suit, only a few years older than myself. 'I am very
pleased to make your acquaintance,' Bernhard said, as we
shook hands. He spoke English without the faintest trace of a
Herr Landauer was a small lively man, with dark leathery
wrinkled skin, like an old well-poUshed boot. He had shiny
brown boot-button eyes and low-comedian's eyebrows - so
thick and black that they looked as if they had been touched up
with burnt cork. It was evident that he adored his family. He
opened the door for Frau Landauer in a way which suggested
that she was a very beautiful young girl. His benevolent, de-
lighted smile embraced the whole party - Natalia sparkling
with joy at her father's return, Frau Landauer faintly flushed,
Bernhard's smooth and pale and politely enigmatic: even I
152 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
myself was included. Indeed, Herr Landauer addressed
almost the whole of his conversation to me, carefully avoiding
any reference to family affairs which might have reminded
me that I was a stranger at his table.
*Thirty-five years ago I was in England,' he told me, speaking
with a strong accent. *I came to your capital to write a thesis
for my doctorate, on the condition of Jewish workers in the
East End of London. I saw a great deal that your English
officials did not desire me to see. I was quite a young fellow
then: younger, I suspect, than you are to-day. I had some
exceedingly interesting conversations with dock-hands and
prostituted women and the keepers of your so-called Public
Houses. Very interesting ...' Herr Landauer smiled remi-
niscently : *And this insignificant little thesis of mine caused a
great deal of discussion. It has been translated into no less
than five languages.'
*Five languages!' repeated Natalia, in German, to me. *You
see, my father is a writer, too!'
*Ah, that was thirty-five years ago! Long before you were
born, my dear.' Herr Landauer shook his head deprecatingly,
his boot-button eyes twinkling with benevolence: *Now I
have not the time for such studies.' He turned to me again : *I
have just been reading a book in the French language about
your great English poet. Lord Byron. A most interesting book.
Now I should be very glad to have your opinion, as a writer,
on this most important question - was Lord Byron guilty of
the crime of incest? What do you think, Mr Isherwood?'
I felt myself beginning to blush. For some odd reason, it
was the presence of Frau Landauer, placidly chewing her
lunch, not of Natalia, which chiefly embarrassed me at this
moment. Bernhard kept his eyes on his plate, subtly smiling.
Well,' I began, *it's radier difficult . . .'
*This is a very interesting problem,' interrupted Herr Lan-
dauer, looking benevolently round upon us all and masticat-
ing with the greatest satisfaction: *Shall we allow that the
man of genius is an exceptional person who may do excep-
tional things? Or shall we say: No - you may write a beauti-
ful poem or paint a beautiful picture, but in your daily life you
THE LANDAUERS 1 53
must behave like an ordinary person, and you must obey
these laws which we have made for ordinary persons? We will
not allow you to be extra-otdinary.^ Herr Landauer fixed each
of us in turn, triumphantly, his mouth full of food. Sud-
denly his eyes focussed beamingly upon me: 'Your drama-
tist Oscar Wilde . . . this is another case. I put this case to you.
Air Isherwood. I should like very much to hear your opinion.
Was your English Law justified in punishing Oscar Wilde, or
was it not justified? Please tell me what you think?'
Herr Landauer regarded me delightedly, a forkful of
meat poised half-way up to his mouth. In the backgroimd, I
was aware of Bernhard, discreetly smiling.
*Well . . .' I began, feeling my ears burning red. This time,
however, Frau Landauer unexpectedly saved me, by making
a remark to Natalia in German, about the vegetables. There
was a little discussion, during which Herr Landauer seemed
to forget all about his question. He went on eating contentedly.
But now Natalia must needs chip in:
Tlease tell my father the name of your book. I could not
remember it. It's such a funny name.'
I tried to direct a private frown of disapproval at her which
the others would not notice. ^All the Conspirators,'' I said,
*All the Conspirators ... oh, yes, of course ! '
*Ah, you write criminal romances, Mr Isherwood?' Herr
Landauer beamed approvingly.
*rm afraid this book has nothing to do with criminals,' I
said, politely. Herr Landauer looked puzzled and disap-
pointed: *Not to do with criminals?'
Tou will explain to him, please,' Natalia ordered.
I drew a long breath : *The title was meant to be symbolic
. . . It's taken from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar . . .'
Herr Landauer brightened at once: *Ah, Shakespeare!
Splendid ! This is most interesting . . .'
*In German,' I smiled slightly at my own cunning: I was
luring him down a side-track, *you have a wonderful transla-
tions of Shakespeare, I believe?'
*Indeed, yes ! These translations are among the finest works
154 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
in our language. Thanks to them, your Shakespeare has be-
come, as it were, almost a German poet . . .'
'But you do not tell,' Natalia persisted, with what seemed
really devilish malice, 'what your book is about?'
I set my teeth: It's about two young men. One of them
is an artist and the other a student of medicine.'
*Are these the only two persons in your book, then?' Nat-
'Of course not . . . But I'm surprised at your bad memory. I
told you the whole story only a short time ago.'
'Imbecile! It is not for myself I ask. Naturally, I remem-
ber all what you have told me. But my father has not yet
heard. So you will please tell . . . And what is then?'
'The artist has a mother and a sister. They are all very un-
'But why are they unhappy? My father and my mother and
I, we are not unhappy.'
I wished the earth would swallow her : 'Not all people are
alike,' I said carefully, avoiding Herr Landauer's eye.
'Good,' said Natalia. 'They are unhappy . . . And what then?'
'The artist runs away from home and his sister gets married
to a very unpleasant young man.'
Natalia evidently saw that I wouldn't stand much more of
this. She delivered one final pin-prick : 'And how many copies
did you sell?'
'Five ! But that is very few, isn't it?'
'Very few indeed.'
At the end of lunch, it seemed tacitly understood that Bern-
hard and his uncle and aunt were to discuss family affairs to-
gether. 'Do you like,' Natalia asked me, 'that we shall walk
together a Uttle?'
Herr Landauer took a ceremonial farewell of me : 'At all
times, Mr Isherwood, you are welcome under my roof.' We
both bowed profoundly. 'Perhaps,' said Bernhard, giving me
his card, 'you would come one evening and enUven my soli-
tude for a little?' I thanked him and said that I should be
THE LANDAUERS I 55
*And what do you think of my father?' Natalia asked, as
soon as we were out of the house.
'I think he's the nicest father I've ever met.'
*You do truthfully?' Natalia was delighted.
*And now confess to me, my father shocked you when he
was speaking of Lord Byron - no? You were quite red as a lob-
ster in your cheeks.'
I laughed: 'Your father makes me feel old-fashioned. His
conversation's so modern.'
Natalia laughed triumphantly : 'You see, I was right ! You
were shocked. Oh, I am so glad! You see, I say to my
father: A vairy intelligent young man is coming here to
see us - and so he wish to show you that he also can be
modern and speak of all subjects. You thought my father
would be a stupid old man? Tell the truth, please.'
'No,' I protested. 'I never thought that ! '
'Well, he is not stupid, you see ... He is vairy clever.
Only he does not have so much time for reading, because he
must work always. Sometimes he must work eighteen and
nineteen hours in the day; it is tairrible. . . And he is the best
father in the whole world ! '
'Your cousin Bernhard is your father's partner, isn't
Natalia nodded : 'It is he who manages the store, here in
BerUn. He is also vairy clever.'
'I suppose you see a good deal of him?'
'No ... It is not often that he come to our house ... He is a
strange men, you know? I think he like to be vairy much
alone. I am surprised when he ask you to make him a visit . . .
You must be careful.'
'Careful? Why on earth should I be careful?'
'He is vairy sarcastical, you see. I think perhaps he laugh
'Well, that wouldn't be very terrible, would it? Plenty of
people laugh at me , . . You do, yourself, sometimes.'
'Oh, I! That is different.' Natalia shook her head sol-
156 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
emnly : *Wheii I laugh, it is to make fun, you know? But when
Bemhard laugh at you, it is not nice . . .'
Bernhard had a fiat in a quiet street not far from the Tier-
garten. When I rang at the outer entrance, a gnome-like care-
taker peeped up at me through a tiny basement window,
asked whom I wished to visit, and finally, after regarding me
for a few moments with profound mistrust, pressed a button
releasing the lock of the outer door. This door was so heavy
that I had to push it open with both hands; it closed behind
me with a hollow boom, like the firing of a cannon. Then came
a pair of doors opening into the courtyard, then the door of
the Gartenhaus, then five flights of stairs, then the door of the
flat. Four doors to protect Bernhard from the outer world.
This evening, he was wearing a beautifully embroidered
kimono over his town clothes. He was not quite as I remem-
bered him from our first meeting : I hadn't seen him, then,
as being in the least oriental - the kimono, I suppose, brought
this out. His overcivilized, prim, finely drawn, beaky profile
gave him something of the air of a bird in a piece of Chinese
embroidery. He was soft, negative, I thought, yet curiously
potent, and with the static potency of a carved ivory figure in
a shrine. I noticed again his beautiful English, and the depre-
catory gestures of his hands, as he showed me a twelfth-
century sandstone head of Buddha from Khmer which stood
at the foot of his bed - ^keeping watch over my slumbers.'
On the low white bookcase were little Greek and Siamese and
Indo-Chinese statuettes and stone heads, most of which Bern-
hard had brought home with him from his travels. Amongst
volumes of Kunst-Geschichte, photographic reproductions
and monographs on sculpture and antiquities, I saw Vachell's
The Hill and Lenin's What is to be done? The flat might well
have been in the depths of the country : you couldn't hear the
faintest outside sound. A staid housekeeper in an apron served
supper. I had soup, fish, a chop and savoury; Berrihard drank
milk, ate only tomatoes and rusks.
We talked of London, which Bernhard had never visited, and
of Paris, where he had studied for a time in a sculptor's
THE LANDAUERS 1 57
atelier. In his youth, he had wanted to be a sculptor, ^but,'
Bernhard sighed, smiled gently, Trovidence has ordained
I wanted to talk to him about the Landauer business, but
didn't - fearing it might not be tactful. Bernhard himself
referred to it, however, in passing : *You must pay us a visit,
one day, if it would interest you ~ for I suppose that it is
interesting, if only as a contemporary economic phenomenon.'
He smiled, and his face crossed my mind that he was perhaps
suffering from a fatal disease.
After supper, he seemed brighter, however. A few years be-
fore, he had been right round the world - gently inquisitive,
mildly satiric, poking his delicate beak-like nose into every-
thing : Jewish village commimities in Palestine. Jewish settle-
ments on the Black Sea, revolutionary conmiittees in India,
rebel armies in Mexico. Hesitating, delicately choosing his
words, he described a conversation with a Chinese ferryman
about demons, and a barely credible instance of the brutality
of the police in New York.
Four or five times during the evening, the telephone bell
rang, and, on each occasion, it seemed that Bernhard was
being asked for help and advice. *Come and see me to-
morrow,' he said, in his tired, soothing voice. Tes . . . I'm sure
it can all be arranged . . . And now, please don't worry any
more. Go to bed and sleep. I prescribe two or three tablets
of aspirin . . .' He smiled softly, ironically. Evidently he was
about to lend each of his applicants some money.
*And please tell me,' he asked, just before I left, *if I am
not being impertinent - what has made you come to live in
To learn German,' I said. After Natalia's warning, I wasn't
going to trust Bernhard with the history of my life.
*And you are happy here?'
*That is wonderful, I think . . . Most wonderful . . .' Bernhard
laughed his gentle ironical laugh : *A spirit possessed of such
vitality that it can be happy, even in Berlin. You must teach
me your secret. May I sit at your feet and learn wisdom? '
158 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
His smile contracted, vanished. Once again, the impassivity
of mortal weariness fell like a shadow across his strangely
youthful face. *I hope,' he said, *that you will ring me up
whenever you have nothing better to do.'
Soon after this, I went to call on Bernhard at the business.
Landauers' was an enormous steel and glass building, not
far from the Potsdamer Platz. It took me nearly a quarter of
an hour to find my way through departments of underwear,
outfitting, electrical appliances, sport and cutlery to the pri-
vate world behind the scenes - the wholesale, travellers' and
buying rooms, and Bernhard's own litde suite of offices. A
porter showed me into a small waiting-room, panelled in some
highly poHshed streaky wood, with a rich blue carpet and one
picture, an engraving of Berlin in the year 1803. After a few
moments, Bernhard himself came in. This morning, he looked
younger, sprucer, in a bow-tie and a Ught grey suit. *I hope
that you give your approval to this room,' he said. 1 think that,
as I keep so many people waiting here, they ought at least to
have a more or less sympathetic atmosphere to allay their
It's very nice,' I said, and added, to make conversation - for
I was feeling a little embarrassed: *What kind of wood is
'Caucasian Nut.' Bernhard pronounced the words with his
characteristic primness, very precisely. He grinned suddenly.
He seemed, I thought, in much better spirits: *Come and
see the shop.'
In the hardware department, an overalled woman demon-
strator was exhibiting the merits of a patent coffee-strainer.
Bernhard stopped to ask her how the sales were going, and she
offered us cups of coffee. While I sipped mine, he explained
that I was a well-known coffee-merchant from London, and
that my opinion would therefore be worth having. The woman
half believed this, at first, but we both laughed so much that
she became suspicious. Then Bernhard dropped his coffee-cup
and broke it. He was quite distressed and apologized profusely.
*It doesn't matter,' the demonstrator reassured him - as
THE LANDAUERS I 59
though he were a minor employee who might get sacked for
his clumsiness : I've got two more.'
Presently we came to the toys. Bernhard told me that he
and his uncle wouldn't allow toy soldiers or guns to be sold at
Landauers'. Lately, at a directors' meeting, there had been a
heated argument about toy tanks, and Bernhard had suc-
ceeded in getting his own way. 'But this is really the thin end
of the wedge,' he added, sadly, picking up a toy tractor with
Then he showed me a room in which the children could
play while their mothers were shopping. A uniformed nurse
was helping two little boys to build a castle of bricks. *You
observe,' said Bernhard, *that a little philanthropy is here
combined with advertisement. Opposite this room, we display
specially cheap and attractive hats. The mothers who bring
their children here fall immediately into temptation . . . I'm
afraid you will think us sadly materialistic . . .'
I asked why there was no book department.
'Because we dare not have one. My uncle knows that I
should remain there all day.'
All over the stores, there were brackets of coloured lamps,
red, green, blue and yellow. I asked what they were for, and
Bernhard explained that each of these lights was the signal
for one of the heads of the firm : 'I am the blue light. That is,
perhaps, to some degree, symbolic' Before I had time to
ask what he meant, the blue lamp we were looking at began
to flicker. Bernhard went to the nearest telephone and was
told that somebody wished to speak to him in his ofiice.
So we said good-bye. On the way out, I bought a pair of
During the early part of that winter, I saw a good deal of
Bernhard. I cannot say that I got to know him much better
through these evenings spent together. He remained curiously
remote from me - his face impassive with exhaustion under
the shaded lamplight, his gentle voice moving on through
sequences of mildly humorous anecdotes. He would describe,
for instance, a lunch with some friends who were very strict
l60 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
Jews. *Ah,' Bernhard had said, conversationally, *so we're
having lunch out of doors to-day? How delightful! The
weather's so warm for the time of year, isn't it? And your
garden's looking lovely.' Then, suddenly, it had occurred to
him that his hosts were regarding him rather sourly, and he re-
membered, with horror, that this was the feast of Taber-
I laughed. I was amused. Bernhard told stories very well.
But, all the time, I was aware of feeling a certain impatience.
Why does he treat me like a child, I thought. He treats us
all as children - his uncle and aunt. Natalia, myself. He tells us
stories. He is sympathetic, charming. But his gestures, offering
me a glass of wine or a cigarette, are clothed in arrogance, in
the arrogant humility of the East. He is not going to tell me
what he is really thinking or feeling, and he despises me be-
cause I do not know. He will never tell me anything about him-
self, or about the things which are most important to him.
And because I am not as he is, because I am the opposite of
this, and would gladly share my thoughts and sensations with
forty million people if they cared to read them, I half admire
Bernhard but also half dislike him.
We seldom talked about the political condition of Germany,
but, one evening, Bernhard told me a story of the days of the
civil war. He had been visited by a student friend who was
taking part in the fighting. The student was very nervous and
refused to sit down. Presently he confessed to Bernhard
that he had been ordered to take a message through to one of
the newspaper office-buildings which the police were besieg-
ing; to reach this office, it would be necessary to climb and
crawl over roofs which were exposed to machine-gun fire.
Naturally, he wasn't anxious to start. The student was wear-
ing a remarkably thick overcoat, which Bernhard pressed him
to take off, for the room was well heated and his face was
literally streaming with sweat. At length, after much hesita-
tion, the student did so, revealing, to Bernard's intense alarm,
that the lining of the coat was fitted with inside pockets stuffed
full of hand-grenades. *And the worst of it was,' said Bernhard,
*that he'd made up his mind not to take any more risks, but to
THE LANDAUERS l6l
leave the overcoat with me. He wanted to put it into the bath
and turn on the cold water tap. At last I persuaded him that
it would be much better to take it out after dark and to drop
it into the canal - and this he ultimately succeeded in doing
... He is now one of the most distinguished professors in a
certain provincial university. I am sure that he has long since
forgotten this somewhat embarrassing escapade . . .'
*Were you ever a communist, Bernhard?' I asked.
At once - 1 saw it in his face ~ he was on the defensive. After
a moment, he said slowly :
*No, Christopher. I'm afraid I was always constitutionally
incapable of bringing myself to the required pitch of enthusi-
I felt suddenly impatient with him; angry, even : - ever
to believe in anything?'
Bernhard siniled faintly at my violence. It may have
amused him to rouse me like this.
Terhaps . , .' Then he added, as if to himself: 'No . ..
that is not quite true . . .'
*What do you believe in, then?' I challenged.
Bernhard was silent for some moments, considering this -
his beaky delicate profile impassive, his eyes half-closed. At
last he said : Tossibly I believe in discipline.'
*You don't understand that, Christopher? Let me try to
explain ... I believe in discipline for myself, not necessarily
for others. For others, I cannot judge. I know only that I my-
self must have certain standards which I obey and without
which I am quite lost . . . Does that sound very dreadful?'
'No,' I said - thinking : He is like Natalia.
Tou must not condemn me too harshly, Christopher.' The
mocking smile was spreading over Bernhard's face. 'Remem-
ber that I am a cross-breed. Perhaps, after all, there is one
drop of pure Prussian blood in my polluted veins. Perhaps
this little finger,' he held it up to the light, 'is the finger of a
Prussian drill-sergeant . . . You, Christopher, with your cen-
turies of Anglo-Saxon freedom behind you, with your Magna
Charta engraved upon your heart, cannot xmderstand that we
1 62 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
poor barbarians need the stiffness of a uniform to keep us
*Why do you always make fun of me, Bernhard?'
*Make fun of you, my dear Christopher ! I shouldn't dare ! '
Yet, perhaps, on this occasion, he told me a little more than
he had intended.
I had long meditated the experiment of introducing Natalia
to Sally Bowles. I think I knew beforehand what the result of
their meeting would be. At any rate, I had the sense not to
invite Fritz Wendel.
We were to meet at a smart cafe in the Kurfiistendamm.
Natalia was the first to arrive. She was a quarter of an hour
late - probably because she'd wanted to have the advantage
of coming last. But she had reckoned without Sally: she
hadn't the nerve to be late in the grand manner. Poor Natalia !
She had tried to make herself look more grown up - with the
result that she appeared merely rather dowdy. The long
townified dress she'd put on didn't suit her at all. On the side
of her head, she had planted a Uttle hat - an unconscious
parody of Sally's page-boy cap. But Natalia's hair was much
too fuzzy for it : it rode the waves like a half-swamped boat
on a rough sea.
*How do I look?' she immediately asked, sitting down op-
posite me, rather flurried.
Tou look very nice.'
*Tell me, please, truthfully, what will she think of me?'
*She'll like you very much.'
*How can you say that?' Natalia was indignant. Tou do not
know ! '
*First you want my opinion, and then you say I don't know ! '
Imbecile ! I do not ask for compliments ! '
I'm afraid I don't quite understand what you do ask for.'
*0h no?' cried Natalia scornfully. Tou do not understand?
Then I am sorry. I can't help you ! '
At this moment, Sally arrived.
*Hilloo, darling,' she exclaimed, in her most cooing accents,
Tm terribly sorry I'm late - can you forgive me?' She sat down
THE LANDAUERS 1 63
daintily, enveloping us in wafts of perfume, and began, with
languid miniature gestures, to take off her gloves : IVe been
making love to a dirty old Jew producer. I'm hoping he'll give
me a contract - but no go, so far . . .'
I kicked Sally hastily, under the table, and she stopped
short, with an expression of absurd dismay - but now, of
course, it was too late. Natalia froze before our eyes. All
I'd said and hinted beforehand, in the hypothetic pre-excuse
of Sally's conduct, was instantly made void. After a moment's
glacial pause, Natalia asked me if I'd seen Sous les Toits de
paris. She spoke German. She wasn't going to give Sally a
chance of laughing at her English.
Sally immediately chipped in, however, quite unabashed.
She'd seen the film, and thought it was marvellous, and wasn't
Prejean marvellous, and did we remember the scene where a
train goes past in the background while they're starting to
fight? Sally's German was so much more than usually
awful that I wondered whether she wasn't deliberately exag-
gerating it in order, somehow, to make fun of Natalia.
Durfng the rest of the interview I suffered mental pins and
needles. Natalia hardly spoke at all. Sally prattled on in her
murderous German, making what she imagined to be light
general conversation, chiefly about the English film industry.
But as every anecdote involved explaining that somebody was
someone else's mistress, that this one drank and that one
took drugs, this didn't make the atmosphere any more agree-
able. I found myself getting increasingly annoyed with both
of them - with Sally for her endless silly pornographic talk;
with Nataha for being such a prude. At length, after what
seemed an eternity but was, in fact, barely twenty minutes,
Natalia said that she must be going.
*My God, so must I ! ' cried Sally, in English. *Chris, darling,
you'll take me as far as the Eden, won't you?'
In my cowardly way, I glanced at Natalia, trying to convey
my helplessness. This, I knew only too well, was going to be
regarded as a test of my loyalty - and, already, I had failed
it. Natalia's expression showed no mercy. Her face was set. She
was very angry, indeed.
1 64 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
*When shall I see you?' I ventured to ask.
*I don't know,' said Natalia - and she marched off down the
Kurfiistendamm as if she never wished to set eyes on either of
Although we had only a few hundred yards to go, Sally
insisted that we must take a taxi. It would never do, she ex-
plained, to arrive at the Eden on foot.
*That girl didn't Hke me much, did she?' she remarked, as
we were driving off.
*No, Sally. Not much.'
Tm sure I don't know why ... I went out of my way to be
nice to her.'
*If that's what you call being nice . . . ! ' I laughed, in spite of
Well, what ought I to have done?'
It's more of a question of what you ought not to have done
. . . Haven't you any small-talk except adultery?'
'People have got to take me as I am,' retorted Sally, grandly.
Tinger-nails and all?' I'd noticed Natalia's eyes returning to
them again and again, in fascinated horror.
Sally laughed: *Today, I specially didn't paint my toe-
'Oh, rot, Sally! Do you really?'
Tes, of course I do.'
*But what on earth's the point? I mean, nobody — ' I cor-
rected myself. Very few people can see them . . .'
Sally gave me her most fatuous grin : 'I know, darling . . .
But it makes me feel so marvellously sensual . . .'
From this meeting, I date the decline of my relations with
Natalia. Not that there was ever any open quarrel between us,
or definite break. Indeed, we met again only a few days later;
but at once I was aware of a change in the temperature of
our friendship. We talked, as usual, of art, music, books - care-
fully avoiding the personal note. We had been walking about
the Tiergarten for the best part of an hour, when Natalia
abruptly asked :
THE LANDAUERS 1 65
*You like Miss Bowles vairy much?' Her eyes, fixed on
the leaf -strewn path, were smiling maliciously.
'Of course I do . . . We're going to be married, soon.'
We marched on for several minutes in silence.
*You know,' said Natalia suddenly, with the air of one
who makes a surprising discovery: 'I do not like your Miss
*I know you don't.'
My tone vexed her - as I intended that it should : *What I
think, it is not of importance?'
*Not in the least.' I grinned teasingly.
*Only your Miss Bowles, she is of importance?'
*She is of great importance.'
Natalia reddened and bit her lip. She was getting angry:
'Some day, you will see that I am right.'
I've no doubt I shall.'
We walked all the way back to Natalia's home without ex-
changing a single word. On the doorstep, however, she asked,
as usuaf: 'Perhaps you will ring me up, one day . . .' then
paused, delivered her parting shot : 'if your Miss Bowles per-
I laughed: 'Whether she permits or not, I shall ring you
up very soon.' Almost before I had finished speaking, Natalia
had shut the door in my face.
Nevertheless, I didn't keep my word. It was a month before
I finally dialled Natalia's number. I had half intended to do so,
many times, but, always, my disinclination had been stronger
than my desire to see her again. And when, at length, we did
meet, the temperature had dropped several degrees lower still;
we seemed mere acquaintances. NataUa was convinced, I sup-
pose, that Sally had become my mistress, and I didn't see why
I should correct her mistake - doing so would only have in-
volved a long heart-to-heart talk for which I simply wasn't in
the mood. And, at the end of all the explanations, Natalia
would probably have found herself quite as much shocked as
she was at present, and a good deal more jealous. I didn't
flatter myself that Natalia had ever wanted me as a lover, but
I66 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
she had certainly begun to behave towards me, as a kind of
bossy elder sister, and it was just this role - absurdly enough -
which Sally had stolen from her. No, it was a pity, but on the
whole, I decided, things were better as they were. So I played
up to Natalia's indirect questions and insinuations, and even
let drop a few hints of domestic bliss: *When Sally and I
were having breakfast together, this morning . . .' or *How do
you like this tie? Sally chose it . . .' Poor Natalia received them
in glum silence; and, as so often before. I felt guilty and un-
kind. There were two more meetings, equally unsuccessful.
Then, towards the end of February, I rang up her home, and
was told that she'd gone abroad.
Bernhard, too, I hadn't seen for some time. Indeed, I was
quite surprised to hear his voice on the telephone one morn-
ing. He wanted to know if I would go with him that evening
*into the country' and spend the night. This sounded very
mysterious, and Bernhard only laughed when I tried to
get out of him where we were going and why.
He called for me about eight o'clock, in a big closed car with
a chauffeur. The car, Bernhard explained, belonged to the busi-
ness. Both he and his uncle used it. It was typcial, I thought,
of the patriarchal simplicity in which the Landauers lived
that Natalia's parents had no private car of their own, and that
Bernhard even seemed inclined to apologize to me for the
existence of this one. It was a complicated simplicity, the
negation of a negation. Its roots were entangled deep in the
awful guilt of possession. Oh dear, I sighed to myself, shall I
ever get to the bottom of these people, shall I ever understand
them? The mere act of thinking about the Landauers' psychic
make-up over came me, as always, with a sense of absolute,
*You are tired?' Bernhard asked, solicitous, at my elbow.
*Oh no . . .' I roused myself. *Not a bit.'
*You will not mind if we call first at the house of a friend
of mine? There is somebody else coming with us, you see . . .
I hope you don't object?'
*No, of course not,' I said politely.
THE LANDAUERS 1 67
*He is very quiet. An old friend of the family.' Bernhard,
for some reason, seemed amused. He chuckled faintly to
The car stopped outside a villa in the Fasanenstrasse. Bern-
hard rang the bell and was let in: a few moments later, he
reappeared, carrying in his arms a Skye terrier. I laughed.
'You were exceedingly polite,' said Bernhard, smiling. *A11
the same, I think I detected a certain uneasiness on your part
... Am I right?'
Terhaps . . .'
*I wonder whom you were expecting? Some terribly boring
old gentleman, perhaps?' Bernhard patted the terrier. *But I
fear, Christopher, that you are far too well bred ever to con-
fess that to me now.'
The car slowed down and stopped before the toll-gate of the
*Where are we going?' I asked. T wish you'd tell me I '
Bernhard smiled his soft expansive Oriental smile: *I'm
very my&terious, am I not?'
*Surely it must be a wonderful experience for you to be
driving away into the night, not knowing whither you are
bound? If I tell you that we are going to Paris, or to Madrid,
or to Moscow, then there will no longer be any mystery and
you will have lost half your pleasure ... Do you know, Chris-
topher, I quite envy you because you do not know where
we are going?'
'That's one way of looking at it, certainly . . . But, at any
rate, I know already we aren't going to Moscow. We're driving
in the opposite direction.'
Bernhard laughed: Tou are so very English sometimes,
Christopher. Do you realize that, I wonder?'
*You bring out the English side of me, I think,' I answered,
and immediately felt a little uncomfortable, as though this re-
mark were somehow insulting. Bernhard seemed aware of
*Am I to understand that as a compliment, or as a reproof?'
*As a compliment, of course.'
1 68 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
The car whirled along the black Avus, into the immense
darkness of the winter countryside. Giant reflector signs glit-
tered for a moment like burnt-out matches. Already Berlin
was a reddish glow in the sky behind us, dwindling rapidly be-
yond a converging forest of pines. The searchlight on the
Funkturm swimg its little ray through the night. The straight
black road roared headlong to meet us, as if to its destruction.
In the upholstered darkness of the car, Bernhard was patting
the restless dog upon his knees.
*Very well, I will tell you . . . We are going to a place on the
shores of the Wannsee which used to belong to my father.
What you call in England a country cottage.'
*A cottage? Very nice . . .?'
My tone amused Bernhard. I could hear from his voice that
he was smiling :
*I hope you won't find it too uncomfortable?'
I'm sure I shall love it.'
*It may seem a little primitive, at first . . .' Bernhard laughed
quietly to himself : 'Nevertheless, it is amusing . . .'
*It must be . . .'
I suppose I had been vaguely expecting an hotel, lights,
music, very good food. I reflected bitterly that only a rich,
decadently over-civilized town-dweller would describe camp-
ing out for the night in a poky, damp country cottage in the
middle of the winter as 'amusing.' And how typical that he
should drive me to that cottage in a luxurious car! Where
would the chauffeur sleep? Probably in the best hotel in
Potsdam ... As we passed the lamps of the toll-house at the
far end of the Avus, I saw that Bernhard was still smiling to
The car swung to the right, downhill, along a road through
silhouetted trees. There was a feeling of nearness to the big
lake lying invisible behind the woodland on our left. I had
hardly realized that the road had ended in a gateway and a
private drive : we pulled up at the door of a large villa.
'Where's this?' I asked Bernhard, supposing confusedly that
he must have something else to call for - another terrier,
perhaps. Bernhard laughed gaily :
THE LANDAUERS 1 69
*We have arrived at our destination, my dear Christopher !
Out you get ! *
A manservant in a striped jacket opened the door. The dog
jumped out, and Bernhard and I followed. Resting his hand
upon my shoulder, he steered me across the hall and up the
stairs. I was aware of a rich carpet and framed engravings. He
opened the door of a luxurious pink and white bedroom,
with a luscious quilted silk eiderdown on the bed. Beyond was
a bathroom, gleaming with polished silver, and hung with
fleecy white towels.
Bernhard grinned :
Toor Christopher! I fear you are disappointed in our
cottage? It is too large for you, too ostentatious? You were
looking forward to the pleasure of sleeping on the floor -
amidst the black-beeties?'
The atmosphere of this joke surrounded us through dinner.
As the manservant brought in each new course on its silver
dish, Bernhard would catch my eye and smile a deprecatory
smile. The dining-room was tame baroque, elegant and rather
colourless. I asked him when the villa had been built.
*My father built this house in 1904. He wanted to make it
as much as possible like an English home - for my
mother's sake . . .'
After dinner we walked down the windy garden, in the
darkness. A strong wind was blowing up through the trees,
from over the water. I followed Bernhard, stumbling against
the body of the terrier which kept running between my legs,
down flights of stone steps to a landing-stage. The dark
lake was full of waves, and beyond, in the direction of Potsdam^
a sprinkle of bobbing lights were comet-tailed in the black
water. On the parapet, a dismantied gas-bracket rattied in
the wind, and, below us, the waves splashed uncannily soft and
wet, against unseen stone.
*When I was a boy, I used to come down these steps in the
winter evenings and stand for hours here . . .' Bernhard had
begun to speak. His voice was pitched so low that I could
hardly hear it; his face was turned away from me, in the
darkness, looking out over the lake. When a stronger puff of
1 70 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
wind blew, his words came more distinctly - as though the
wind itself were talking: *That was during the War-time.
My elder brother had been killed, right at the beginning
of the War . . . Later, certain business rivals of my father began
to make propaganda against him, because his wife was an
English woman, so that nobody would come to visit us, and it
was rumoured that we were spies. At last, even the local trades-
people did not wish to call at the house ... It was all rather rid-
iculous, and at the same time rather terrible, that human
beings could be possessed by so much malice . . .'
I shivered a little, peering out over the water. It was cold.
Bernhard's soft, careful voice continued in my ear :
*I used to stand here on those winter evenings and pretend to
myself that I was the last human being left alive in the
world ... I was a queer sort of boy, I suppose ... I never got on
well with other boys, although I wished very much to be
popular and to have friends. Perhaps that was my mistake -
I was too eager to be friendly. The boys saw this and it made
them cruel to me. Objectively, I can understand that . . . pos-
sibly I might even have been capable of cruelty myself, had
the circumstances been otherwise. It is difficult to say . . . But,
being what I was, school was a kind of Chinese torture ... So
you can understand that I liked to come down here at night
to the lake, and be alone. And then there was the War ... At
this time, I believed that the War would go on for ten, or fif-
teen, or even twenty years. I knew that I myself should soon be
called up. Curiously enough, I don't remember that I felt at
all afraid. I accepted it. It seemed quite natural that we should
all have to die. I suppose that this was the general wartime
mentality. But I think that, in my case, there was also some-
thing characteristically Semitic in my attitude ... It is very
difficult to speak quite impartially of these things. Some-
times one is unwilling to make certain admissions to oneself,
because they are displeasing to one's self-esteem . . .'
We turned slowly and began to climb the slope of the
garden from the lake. Now and then, I heard the panting of
the terrier, out hunting in the dark. Bernhard's voice went
on, hesitating, choosing its words :
THE LANDAUERS ' I7I
'After my brother had been killed, my mother scarcely ever
left this house and its grounds. I think she tried to forget that
such a land as Germany existed. She began to study Hebrew
and to concentrate her whole mind upon ancient Jewish his-
tory and literature. I suppose that this is really symptomatic
of a modern phase of Jewish development - this turning away
from European culture and European traditions. I am aware of
it, sometimes, in myself ... I remember my mother going
about the house like a person walking in sleep. She grudged
every moment which she did not spend at her studies, and
this was rather terrible because, all the while, she was dying
of cancer ... As soon as she knew what was the matter with
her, she refused to see a doctor. She feared an operation . . .
At last, when the pain became very bad, she killed herself . . .'
We had reached the house. Bernhard opened a glass door,
and we passed through a little conservatory into a big draw-
ing-room full of jumping shadows from the fire burning in an
open English fireplace. Bernhard switched on a number of
lamps, making the room quite dazzlingly bright.
*Need we have such illumination?' I asked. *I think the fire-
light is much nicer.'
*Do you?' Bernhard smiled subtly. *So do I. ... But I
thought, somehow, that you would prefer the lamps.'
*Why on earth should I?' I mistrusted his tone at once.
*I don't know. It's merely part of my conception of your
character. How very foolish I am!'
Bernhard's voice was mocking. I made no reply. He got up
and turned out all but one small lamp on a table at my
side. There was a long silence.
* Would you care to listen to the wireless?'
This time his tone made me smile : Tou don't have to enter-
tain me, you know! I'm perfectly happy just sitting here by
*If you are happy, then I am glad ... It was f ooUsh of me - 1
had formed the opposite impression.'
*What so you mean?'
*I was afraid, perhaps, that you were feeling bored.'
'Of course not ! What nonsense ! '
1 72 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
Tou are very polite, Christopher. You are always very polite.
But I can read quite clearly what you are thinking ...'I
had never heard Bernhard's voice sound like this, before; it
was really hostile: *You are wondering why I brought you
to this house. Above all, you are wondering why I told you
what I told you just now.'
I'm glad you told me . . .'
•No Christopher. That is not true. You are a little shocked.
One does not speak of such things, you think. It disgusts your
English public-school training, a little - this Jewish emotion-
alism. You Uke to flatter yourself that you are a man of the
world and that no form of weakness disgusts you, but your
training is too strong for you. People ought not to talk to each
other like this, you feel. It is not good form.'
*Bernhard, you're being fantastic!'
*Am I? Perhaps . . . But I do not think so. Never mind . . .
Since you wish to know, I will try to explain to you why I
brought you here ... I wished to make an experiment.'
*An experiment? Upon me, you mean?'
*No. An experiment upon myself. That is to say . . . For ten
years, I have never spoken intimately, as I have spoken to you
to-night, to any human soul ... I wonder if you can put your-
self in my place, imagine what that means? And this evening
. . . Perhaps, after all, it is impossible to explain . . . Let me
put it another way. I bring you down here, to this house,
which has no associations for you. You have no reason to
feel oppressed by the past. Then I tell you my story ... It is
possible that, in this way, one can lay ghosts ... I can express
myself very badly. Does it sound very absurd as I say it?'
*No not in the least . . . But why did you choose me for your
Tour voice was very hard as you said that, Christopher. You
are thinking that you despise me.'
*No, Bernhard. I'm thinking that you must despise me .,,
I often wonder why you have anything to do with me at all. I
feel sometimes that you actually dislike me, and that you say
and do things to show it - and yet, in a way, I suppose you
don't, or you wouldn't keep asking me to come and see you
THE LANDAUERS 173
... All the same, I'm getting rather tired of what you call
your experiments. To-night wasn't the first of them by any
means. The experiments fail, and then you're angry with me.
I must say, I think that's very unjust . . . But what I can't stand
is that you show your resentment by adopting this mock-
humble attitude . . . Actually, you're the least humble person
I've ever met.'
Bernhard was silent. He had lit a cigarette, and now expelled
the smoke slowly through his nostrils. At last he said :
*I wonder if you are right ... I think not altogether. But
partly . . . Yes, there is some quality in you which attracts me
and which I very much envy, and yet this very quality of yours
also arouses my antagonism . . . Perhaps that is merely be-
cause I am also partly English, and you represent to me an
aspect of my own character . . . No, that is not true, either . . .
It is not so simple as I would wish . . . I'm afraid,' Bernhard
passed his hand over his forehead and eyes, *that I am a quite
unnecessarily complicated piece of mechanism.'
There was a moment's silence. Then he added :
*But this is all stupid egotistical talk. You must forgive me. I
have no right to speak to you in this way.'
He rose softly to his feet, went softly across the room, and
switched on the wireless. In rising, he had rested his hand for
an instant on my shoulder. Followed by the first strains of the
music, he came back to his chair before the fire, smiling. His
smile was soft, and yet curiously hostile. It had the hostility of
something ancient. I thought of one of the Oriental statuettes
in his flat.
*This evening,' he smiled softly, *they are relaying the last
act of Die Meister Sanger/
*Very interesting,' I said.
Half an hour later, Bernhard took me up to my bedroom
door, his hand upon my shoulder, still smiling. Next morning,
at breakfast, he looked tired, but was gay and amusing. He
did not in any way refer to our conversation of the evening
174 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
We drove back to Berlin, and he dropped me on die corner
of the Nollendorfplatz.
'Ring me up soon,' I said.
'Of course. Early next week.'
'And thank you very much.'
Thank you for coming, my dear Christopher.'
I didn't see him again for nearly six months.
One Sunday, early in August, a referendum was held to de-
cide the fate of the Briining government. I was back at Frl.
Schroeder's, lying in bed through the beautiful hot weather,
cursing my toe : I had cut it on a piece of tin, bathing for the
last time at Riigen, and now it had suddenly festered and was
full of poison. I was quite delighted when Bernhard unexpec-
tedly rang me up.
'You remember a certain Uttle country cottage on the
shores of the Wansee? You do? I was wondering if you would
care to spend a few hours there, this afternoon . . . Yes, your
landlady has told me already about your misfortune. I am so
sorry ... I can send the car for you. I think it will be good
to escape for a little from this city? You can do whatever you
like there - just lie quiet and rest. Nobody will interfere with
with your liberty.'
Soon after lunch, the car duly arrived to pick me up. It was
a glorious afternoon, and, during the drive, I blessed Bern-
hard for his kindness. But when we arrived at the villa, I got a
nasty shock : the lawn was crowded with people.
I was really annoyed. It was a dirty trick, I thought. Here was
I, in my oldest clothes, with a bandaged foot and a stick, lured
into the middle of a slap-up garden-party! And here was
Bernhard in flannel trousers and a boyish jumper. It was aston-
ishing how young he looked. Bounding to meet me, he vaulted
over the low railing :
'Christopher! Here you are at last! Make yourself com-
In spite of my protests, he forcibly removed my coat and
hat. As ill-luck would have it, I was wearing braces. Most of the
other guests were in smart Riviera flannels. Smihng sourly.
THE LANDAUERS 1 75
adopting instinctively the armour of sulky eccentricity which
protects me on such occasions, I advanced hobbling into their
midst." Several couples were dancing to a portable gramo-
phone; two young men were pillow-fighting with cushions,
cheered on by their respective women; most of the party were
lying chatting on rugs on the grass. It was all so very informal,
and the footmen and the chauffeurs stood discreetly aside,
watching their antics, like the nursemaids of titled children.
What were they doing here? Why had Bernhard asked
them? Was this another and more elaborate attempt to exor-
cize his ghosts? No, I decided; it was more probably only a
duty-party, given once a year, to all the relatives, friends
and dependents of the family. And mine was just another
name to be ticked off, far down the list. Well, it was silly to be
ungracious. I was here. I would enjoy myself.
Then, to my great surprise, I saw Natalia. She was dressed
in some light yellow material, with small puffed sleeves, and
carried a big straw hat in her hand. She looked so pretty that I
should hardly have recognized her. She advanced gaily to
welcome me :
*Ah, Christopher ! You know, I am so pleased ! '
*Where have you been, all the time?'
*In Paris . . . You did not know? Truthfully? I await always
a letter from you - and there is nothing ! '
*But Natalia, you never sent me your address.'
'Oh, I did r
*Well, in that case, I never got the letter . . . I've been away,
too, you know.'
*So? you have been away? Then I'm sorry ... I can't help
you ! '
We both laughed. Natalia's laugh had changed, like every-
thing else about her. It was no longer the laugh of the severe
schoolgirl who had ordered me to read Jacobsen and Goethe.
And there was a dreamy, delighted smile upon her face - as
though, I thought, she were Ustening, all the time, to lively,
pleasant music. Despite her obvious pleasure at seeing me
again, she seemed hardly to be attending to our conversa-
176 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
*And what are you doing in Paris? Are you studying art, as
you wanted to?'
*But of course ! '
*Do you like it?'
*Wonderful!' Natalia nodded vigorously. Her eyes were
sparkling. But the word seemed intended to describe some-
*Is your mother with you?'
Tes. Yes . . .'
*Have you got a flat together?'
Tes . . .' Again she nodded. *A flat . . . Oh, it's wonderful!'
*And you go back there, soon?'
*Why, yes ... Of course! To-morrow!' She seemed
quite surprised that I should ask the question - surprised that
the whole world didn't know . . . How well I knew that feel-
ing ! I was certain, now : Natalia was in love.
We talked for several minutes more - Natalia always smiling,
always dreamily listening, but not to me. Then, all at once, she
was in a hurry. She was late, she said. She'd got to pack. She
must go at once. She squeezed my hand, and I watched her
run gaily across the lawn to a waiting car. She had forgotten,
even, to ask me to write, or to give me her address. As I waved
goodbye to her, my poisoned toe gave a sharp twinge of
Later, the younger members of the party bathed, splashing
about in the dirty lake-water at the foot of the stone stairs.
Bernhard bathed, too. He had a white, strangely innocent
body, like a baby's, with a baby's round, slightly protruding
stomach. He laughed and splashed and shouted louder than
anybody. When he caught my eye, he made more noise than
ever - was it, I imagined, with a certain defiance? Was he think-
ing, as I was of what he had told me, standing in this
very place, six months ago? *Come in, too, Christopher!' he
shouted. It'll do your foot good ! ' When, at last, they had all
come out of the water and were drying themselves, he and a
few other young men chased each other, laughing, among the
Yet, in spite of all Bernhard's frisking, the party didn't
THE LANDAUERS 1 77
really *go.' It split up into groups and cliques; and, even when
the fun was at its height, at least a quarter of the guests were
talking politics in low, serious voices. Indeed, some of them
had so obviously come to Bernhard's house merely to meet
each other and to discuss their own private affairs that they
scarcely troubled to pretend to take part in the sociabilities.
They might as well have been sitting in their own ofl&ces, or at
When it got dark, a girl began to sing. She sang in Russian,
and, as always, it sounded sad. The footmen brought out
glasses and a huge bowl of claret-cup. It was getting chilly on
the lawn. There were millions of stars. Out on the great calm
brimming lake, the last ghost-like sails were tacking hither
and thither with the faint uncertain night breeze. The gramo-
phone played. I lay back on the cushions, listening to a Jewish
surgeon who argued that France cannot understand Germany
because the French have experienced nothing comparable to
the neurotic post-War life of the German people. A girl
laughed suddenly, shrilly, from the middle of a group of
young men. Over there, in the city, the votes were being
counted. I thought, of Natalia : She has escaped - none too
soon, perhaps. However often the decision may be delayed,
all these people are ultimately doomed. This evening is the
dress-rehearsal of a disaster. It is like the last night of an
At half-past ten, the party began to break up. We all stood
about in die hall or around the front door while someone
telephoned through to Berlin to get the news. A few moments'
hushed waiting, and the dark listening face at the telephone
relaxed into a smile. The Government was safe, he told us.
Several of the guests cheered, semi-ironical but relieved. I
turned to find Bernhard at my elbow : *Once again. Capitalism
is saved.' He was subtly smiling.
He had arranged that I should be taken home in the dicky
of a Berlin-bound car. As we came down the Tauentzien-
strasse, they were selling papers with the news of the shoot-
ing on the Biilowplatz. I thought of our party lying out there
on the lawn by the lake, drinking our claret-cup while the
lyS GOODBYE TO BERLIN
gramophone played; and of that police-ofl&cer, revolver in
hand, stumbling mortally wounded up the cinema steps to fall
dead at the feet of a cardboard figure advertising a comic film.
Another pause - eight months, this time. And here I was,
ringing the bell of Bernhard's flat. Yes, he was in.
*This is a great honour, Christopher. And, unfortunately, a
very rare one.'
Tes, I'm sorry. I've so often meant to come and see you . . .
I don't know why I haven't . . .'
* You've been in BerUn all this time? You know, I rang up
twice at Frl. Schroeder's, and a strange voice answered and
said that you'd gone away, to England.'
1 told Frl. Schroeder diat. I didn't want her to know that I
was still here.'
*Oh, indeed? You had a quarrel?'
*0n the contrary. I told her that I was going to England,
because, otherwise, she'd have insisted on supporting me. I
got a bit hard up . . . Ever5rthing's perfectly all right again,
now,' I added hastily, seeing a look of concern on Bernhard's
*Quite certain? I am very glad . . . But what have you been
doing with yourself, all this time?'
^Living with a family of five in a two-room attic in Halleshes
*Bernhard smiled : 'By Jove, Christopher - what a roman-
tic life you lead ! '
I'm glad you call that kind of thing romantic. I don't!*
We both laughed.
*At any rate,' Bernhard said, *it seems to have agreed with
you. You're looking the picture of health.'
I couldn't return the compliment. I thought I had never
seen Bernhard looking so ill. His face was pale and drawn; the
weariness did not lift from ih even when he smiled. There
were deep sallow half-moons under his eyes. His hair seemed
thinner. He might have added ten years to his age.
*And how have you been getting on?' I asked.
*My existence, in comparison with yours, is sadly hum-
THE LANDAUERS 179
drum, I fear . . . Nevertheless, there are certain tragi-comic
*What sort of diversions?'
*This for example — ' Bernhard went over to his writing-desk,
picked up a sheet of paper and handed it to me : *It arrived
by post this morning.'
I read the typed words :
Bernhard Landauer, beware. We are going to settle the
score with you and your uncle and all other filthy Jews. We
give you twenty-four hours to leave Germany. If not, you
are dead men.
Bernhard laughed : 'Bloodthirsty, isn't it?'
'It's incredible . . . Who do you suppose sent it?'
*An employee who has been dismissed, perhaps. Or a
practical joker. Or a madman. Or a hot-headed Nazi school-
*What shall you do?'
'Surely you'll tell the police?'
'My dear Christopher, the police would very soon get tired
of hearing such nonsense. We receive three or four such letters
'All the same, this one may quite well be in earnest . . . The
Nazis may write like schoolboys, but they're capable of any-
thing. That's just why they're so dangerous. People laugh at
them, right up to the last moment . . .'
Bernhard smiled his tired smile : 'I appreciate very much
this anxiety of yours on my behalf. Nevertheless, I am quite
unworthy of it . . . My existence is not of such vital im-
portance to myself or to others that the forces of the Law
should be called upon to protect me ... As for my uncle he is at
present in Warsaw . . .'
I saw that he wished to change the subject :
'Have you any news of Natalia and Frau Landauer?'
'Oh yes, indeed ! Natalia is married. Didn't you know? To a
young French doctor ... I hear that they are very happy.'
Tm so glad!'
l80 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
*Yes . . . It's pleasant to think of one's friends being happy,
isn't it?' Bernhard crossed to the waste paper basket and
dropped the letter into it : 'Especially in another country . . .'
He smiled, gently and sadly.
*And what so you think will happen in Germany, now?' I
asked. *Is there going to be a Nazi putsch or a communist
Bernhard laughed: Tou have lost none of your en-
thusiasm, I see! I only wish that this question seemed as
momentous to me as it does to you . . .'
It'll seem momentous enough, one of these fine mornings'
- the retort rose to my lips : I am glad now that I didn't utter
it. Instead, I asked : *Why do you wish that?'
'Because it would be a sign of something healthier in my
own character ... It is right, nowadays, that one should be in-
terested in such things; I recognize that. It is sane. It is
healthy . . . And because all this seemed to me a little unreal, a
little - please don't be offended, Christopher - trivial, I know
that I am getting out of touch with existence. That is bad, of
course . . . One must preserve a sense of proportion . . . Do
you know, there are times when I sit here alone in the even-
ings, amonst these books and stone figures, and there comes to
me such a strange sensation of unreality, as if this were my
whole life? Yes, actually, sometimes. I have felt a doubt as to
whether our firm - that great building packed from floor to
roof with all our accumulation of property - really exists at
all, except in my imagination . . . And then I have had an un- ,
pleasant feeling, such as one has in a dream, that I myself
do not exist. It is very morbid, very unbalanced, no doubt ... I
will make a confession to you, Christopher . . . One evening, I
was so much troubled by this hallucination of the non-exis-
tence of Landauers' that I picked up my telephone and had
a long conversation with one of the night-watchmen, making
some stupid excuse for having troubled him. Just to reassure
myself, you understand? Don't you think I must be becoming
1 don't think anything of the kind ... It could have hap-
pened to anyone who has overworked.'
THE LANDAUERS l8l
*You recommend a holiday? A month in Italy, just as the
spring is beginning? Yes ... I remember the days when a
month of Italian sunshine would have solved all my troubles.
But now, alas, that drug has lost its power. Here is a paradox
for you! Landauers' is no longer real to me, yet I am more
than ever its slave! You see the penalty of a life of sordid
materialism. Take my nose away from the grindstone, and I
become positively unhappy . . . Ah, Christopher, be warned by
He smiled, spoke lightly, half banteringly. I didn't like to
pursue the subject further.
'You know,' I said, 1 really am going to England, now. I'm
leaving in three or four days.'
1 am sorry to hear it. How long do you expect to stay
'Probably the whole summer.'
'You are tired of Berlin, at last?'
'Oh no ... I feel more as if Berlin had got tired of me.'
'Then you will come back?'
'Yes I expect so.'
*I believe that you will always come back to Berlin, Christo-
pher. You seem to belong here.'
'Perhaps I do, in a way.'
It is strange how people seem to belong to places -
especially to places where they were not born . . . When I first
went to China, it seemed to me that I was at home there, for
the first time in my life . . . Perhaps, when I die, my spirit will
be wafted to Peking.'
'It'd be better if you let a train waft your body there, as soon
as possible ! '
Bernhard laughed : 'Very well ... I will follow your advice !
But on two conditions - first, that you come with me; second,
that we leave BerUn this evening.'
'You mean it?'
'Certainly I do.'
'What a pity ! I should like to have come . . . Unfortunately,
I've only a hundred and fifty marks in the world.'
1 82 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
^Naturally, you would be my guest.'
*Oh, Bernhard, how marvellous! We'd stop a few days in
Warsaw, to get the visas. Then on to Moscow, and take the
trans-Siberian . . .'
*So you'll come?'
*0f course ! '
I pretended to consider: I'm afraid I can't this evening
... I'd have to get my washing back from the laundry, first
. . . What about tomorrow?'
^Tomorrow is too late.'
Tes, isn't it?'
We both laughed. Bernhard seemed to be specially tickled
by his joke. There was even something a little exaggerated in
his laughter, as though the situation had some further di-
mension of humour to which I hadn't penetrated. We were
still laughing when I said good-bye.
Perhaps I am slow at jokes. At any rate, it took me nearly
eighteen months to see the point of this one - to recognize
it as Bernhard's last, most daring and most cynical experi-
ment upon us both. For now I am certain - absolutely con-
vinced - that his offer was perfectly serious.
When I returned to Berlin, in the autumn of 1932, 1 duly
rang Bernhard up, only to be told that he was away on busi-
ness, in Hamburg. I blame myself now - one always does
blame oneself afterwards - for not having been more persistent.
But there was so much for me to do, so many pupils, so many
other people to see; the weeks turned into months; Christmas
came - 1 sent Bernhard a card but got no answer : he was away
again, most likely; and then the New Year began.
Hitler came, and the Reichstag fire, and the mock-elections.
I wondered what was happening to Bernhard. Three times I
rang him up - from call-boxes, lest I should get Frl. Schroeder
into trouble : there was never any reply. Then, one evening
early in April, I went round to his house. The caretaker put
his head out of the tiny window, more suspicious than ever :
THE LANDAUERS 1 83
at first, he seemed even inclined to deny that he knew Bern-
hard at all. Then he snapped: *Herr Landauer has gone
away . . . gone right away.'
'Do you mean he's moved from here?' I asked. *Can you
give me his address?'
*He's gone away,' the caretaker repeated, and slammed the
I left it at that - concluding, not unnaturally, that Bern-
hard was somewhere safe abroad.
On the morning of the Jewish boycott, I walked round to
take a look at Landauers'. Things seemed very much as
usual, superficially. Two or three uniformed S.A. boys
were posted at each end of the big entrances. Whenever a
shopper approached, one of them would say : 'Remember this
is a Jewish business ! ' The boys were quite polite, grinning,
making jokes among themselves. Little knots of passers-by col-
lected jto watch the performance - interested, amused or
merely apathetic; still uncertain whether or not to approve.
There was nothing of the atmosphere one read of later in
the smaller provincial towns, where purchasers were forcibly
disgraced with a rubber ink-stamp on the forehead and cheek.
Quite a lot of people went into the building. I went in myself,
bought the first thing I saw - it happened to be a nutmeg-
grater - and strolled out again, twirling my small parcel, one
of the boys at the door winked and said something to his
companion. I remembered having seen him once or twice at
the Alexander Casino, in the days when I was living with the
In May, I left Berlin for the last time. My first stop was at
Prague - and it was there, sitting one evening alone, in a
cellar restaurant, that I heard, indirectly, my last news of the
Two men were at the next table, talking German. One of
them was certainly an Austrian; the other I couldn't place -
he was fat and sleek, about forty-five, and might well have
1 84 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
owned a small business in any European capital, from
Belgrade to Stockholm. Both of them were undoubtedly pros-
perous, technically Aryan, and politically neuter. The fat man
startled me into attention by saying :
*You know Landauers' — Landauers' of Berlin?'
The Austrian nodded : 'Sure, I do . . . Did a lot of business
with them, one time . . . Nice place they've got there. Must
have cost a bit . . .'
*Seen the papers, this morning?'
*No. Didn't have time . . . Moving into our new flat, you
know. The wife's coming back.'
*She's coming back? You don't say! Been in Vienna, hasn't
*Had a good time?'
*Trust her ! It cost enough, anyway.'
'Vienna's pretty dear, these days.'
*It is that.'
'It's dear everywhere.'
'I guess you're right.' The fat man began to pick his teeth :
'What was I saying?'
'You were saying about Landauers'.'
'So I was . . . You didn't read the papers, this morning?'
'No, I didn't read them.'
'There was a bit in about Bernhard Landauer.'
'Bernhard?' said the Austrian. 'Let's see - he's the son, isn't
'I wouldn't know . . .' The fat man dislodged a tiny fragment
of meat with the point of his toothpick. Holding it up to the
light, he regarded it thoughtfully.
'I think he's the son,' said the Austrian. 'Or maybe the
nephew . . . No, I think he's the son.'
'Whoever he is,' the fat man flicked the scrap of meat on to
his plate with a gesture of distaste ; 'He's dead.'
'You don't say!'
'Heart failure.' The fat man frowned, and raised his hand
to cover a belch. He was wearing three gold rings: 'That's
THE LANDAUERS 1 85
what the newspapers said.'
*Heart failure ! ' The Austrian shifted uneasily in his chair :
*You don't say ! '
^There's a lot of heart failure,' said the fat man, *in Germany
The Austrian nodded: Tou can't believe all you hear.
That's a fact.'
*If you ask me,' said the fat man, 'anyone's heart's liable to
fail, if it gets a bullet inside it.'
The Austrian looked very uncomfortable : Those Nazis . . .'
They mean business.' The fat man seemed rather to enjoy
making his friend's flesh creep. Tou mark my words : they're
going to clear the Jews right out of Germany. Right out.'
*The Austrian shook his head ; *I don't like it.'
'Concentration camps,' said the fat man lighting a cigar.
They get them in there, make them sign things ... Then
their hearts fail.'
*I don't like it,' said the Austrian. It's bad for trade.'
*Yes,' the fat man agreed. *It's bad for trade.'
'Makes everything so uncertain.'
'That's right. Never know who you're doing business widi.'
The fat man laughed. In his own way he was rather macabre :
'It might be a corpse.'
The Austrian shivered a little: 'What about the old man,
old Landauer? Did they get him, too?'
'Nq, he's all right. Too smart for them. He's in Paris.*
'You don't say ! '
'I reckon the Nazis'll take over the business. They're doing
'Then old Landauer'U be ruined, I guess?'
'Not him! ' The fat man flicked the ash from his cigar, con-
temptuously. 'He'll have a bit put by, somewhere. You'll see.
He'U start something else. They're smart, those Jews . . .'
'That's right,' the Austrian agreed. 'You can't keep a Jew
The thought seemed to cheer him, a Uttle. He brightened :
'That reminds me! I knew there was something I wanted to
1 86 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
tell you . . . Did you ever hear the story about the Jew and the
Goy girl with the wooden leg?'
'No.' The fat man puffed at his cigar. His digestion was
working well, now. He was in the right after-dinner mood:
*Go ahead . . .'
A BERLIN DIARY
To-night, for the first time this winter, it is very cold. The dead
cold grips the town in utter silence, like the silence of intense
midday summer heat. In the cold the town seems actually to
contract, to dwindle to a small black dot, scarcely larger than
hundreds of other dots, isolated and hard to find, on the enor-
mous European map. Outside, in the night, beyond the last
new-built blocks of concrete flats, where the streets end in
frozen allotment gardens, are the Prussian plains. You can feel
them all round you, to-night, creeping in upon the city, like
and immense waste of unhomely ocean - sprinkled with leafless
copses and ice-lakes and tiny villages which are remembered
only as the outlandish names of battlefields in half-forgotten
wars. Berlin is a skeleton which aches in the cold : it is my own
skeleton aching. I feel in my bones the sharp ache of the frost
in the girders of the overhead railway, in the ironwork of bal-
conies, in bridges, tramlines, lamp-standards, latrines. The iron
throbs and shrinks, the stone and the bricks ache dully, the
plaster is numb.
Berlin is a city with two centres - the cluster of expensive
hotels, bars, cinemas, shops round the Memorial Church, a
sparkling nucleus of light, like a sham diamond, in the shabby
twilight of the town; and the self-conscious civic centre of
buildings round the Unter den Linden, carefully arranged. In
grand international styles, copies of copies, they assert our dig-
nity as a capital city - a parliament, a couple of museums, a
State bank, a cathedral, an opera, a dozen embassies, a tri-
umphal arch; nothing has been forgotten. And they are all so
pompous, so very correct - all except the cathedral, which be-
trays, in its architecture, a flash of that hysteria which flickers
always behind every grave, grey Prussian fagade. Extinguished
by its absurd dome, it is, at first sight, so startlingly funny that
one searches for a name suitably preposterous - the Church
1 88 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
of the Immaculate Consumption.
But the real heart of Berlin is a small damp black wood - the
Tiergarten. At this time of the year, the cold begins to drive
the peasant boys out of their tiny unprotected villages into the
city, to look for food, and work. But the city, which glowed
so brightly and invitingly in the night sky above the plains, is
cold and cruel and dead. Its warmth is an illusion, a mirage of
the winter desert. It will not receive these boys. It has nothing
to give. The cold drives them out of its streets, into the wood
which is its cruel heart. And there they cower on benches, to
starve and freeze, and dream of their far-away cottage stoves.
Frl, Schroeder hates the cold. Huddled in her fur-lined velvet,
jacket, she sits in the corner with her stockinged feet on the
stove. Sometimes she smokes a cigarette, sometimes she sips
a glass of tea, but mostly she just sits, staring dully at the stove
tiles in a kind of hibernation-doze She is lonely, nowadays. Frl.
Mayr is away in Holland, on a cabaret-tour. So Frl. Schroeder
has nobody to talk to, except Bobby and myself.
Bobby, anyhow, is in deep disgrace. Not only is he out of
work and three months behind with the rent, but Frl. Schroe-
der has reason to suspect him of stealing money from her bag.
*You know, Herr Issyvoo,' she tells me, *I shouldn't wonder
at all if he didn't pinch those fifty marks from Frl. Kost . . .
He's quite capable of it, the pig ! To think I could ever have
been so mistaken in him! Will you believe it, Herr Issyvoo,
I treated him as if he were my own son - and this is the
thanks I get! He says he'll pay me every pfennig if he gets
tliis job as barman at the Lady Windermere . . . if, i/ . . .' Frl.
Schroeder sniffs with intense scorn : *I dare say ! If my grand-
mother had wheels, she'd be an omnibus ! '
Bobby has been turned out of his old room and banished to
the 'Swedish PaviUon.' It must be terribly draughty, up there.
Sometimes poor Bobby looks quite blue with cold. He has
changed very much during the last year - his hair is thinner,
his clothes are shabbier, his cheekiness has become defiant and
rather pathetic. People like Bobby are their jobs - take the job
A BERLIN DIARY 1 89
away and they partially cease to exist. Sometimes, he sneaks
into the living-room, unshaven, his hands in his pockets, and
lounges about uneasily defiant, whistling to himself - the
dance tunes he whistles are no longer quite new. Frl. Schroeder
throws him a word, now and then, like a grudging scrap of
bread, but she won't look at him or make room for him by the
stove. Perhaps she has never really forgiven him for his affair
with Frl. Kost. The tickling and bottom-slapping days are over.
Yesterday we had a visit from Frl. Kost herself. I was out
at the time: when I got back I found Frl. Schroeder quite
excited. *Only think, Herr Issyvoo - I wouldn't have known
her ! She's quite the lady now ! Her Japanese friend has bought
her a fur coat - real fur, I shouldn't like to think what he must
have paid for it! And her shoes - genuine snakeskin! Well,
well, I bet she earned them ! That's the one kind of business
that still goes well, nowadays ... I think I shall have to take to
the line myself!' But however much Frl. Schroeder might
effect sarcasm at Frl. Kost's expense, I could see that she'd
been greatly and not unfavourably impressed. And it wasn't
so much the fur coat or the shoes which had impressed her :
Frl. Kost had achieved something higher - the hall-mark of res-
pectability in Frl. Schroeder's world - she had had an operation
in a private nursing home. *0h, not what you think, Herr Issy-
voo ! It was something to do with her throat. Her friend paid
for that, too, of course . . . Only imagine - the doctors cut some-
thing out of the back of her nose; and now she can fill her
mouth with water and squirt it out through her nostrils, just
like a syringe ! I wouldn't believe it at first - but she did it to
show me I My word of honour, Herr Iss5^oo, she could squirt
it right across the kitchen! There's no denying, she's very
much improved, since the time when she used to live here . . .
I shouldn't be surprized if she married a bank director one of
these days. Oh, yes, you mark my words, that girl will go
far . . .'
Herr Krampf, a young engineer, one of my pupils, describes
his childhood during the days of the War and the Inflation.
During the last years of the War, the straps disappeared from
190 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
tile windows of railway carriages : people had cut them oflF in
order to sell the leather. You even saw men and women going
about in clothes made from the carriage upholstery. A party
of Krampf's school friends broke into a factory one night and
stole all the leather driving belts. Everybody stole. Everybody
sold what they had to sell - themselves included. A boy of four-
teen, from Krampf's class, peddled cocaine between » school
hours, in the streets.
Farmers and' butchers were omnipotent. Their slightest
whim had to be gratified, of you wanted vegetables or meat.
The Krampf family knew of a butcher in a little village outside
Berlin who always had meat to sell. But the butcher had a pecu-
liar sexual perversion. His greatest erotic pleasure was to pinch
and slap the cheeks of a sensitive, well-bred girl or woman. The
possibility of thus humiliating a lady like Frau Krampf excited
him enormously : unless he was allowed to realize his fantasy,
he refused, absolutely, to do business. So, every Sunday,
Krampf 's mother would travel out to the village with her chil-
dren, and patiently offer her cheeks to be slapped and pinched,
in exchange for some cutlets or a steak.
At the far end of the Potsdamerstrasse, there is a fair-
ground, with merry-go-rounds, swings and peep-shows. One of
the chief attractions of the fair-ground is a tent where boxing
and wrestUng matches are held. You pay your money and go in,
the wrestlers fight three or four rounds, and the referee then an-
nounces that, if you want to see any more, you must pay an
extra ten pfennigs. One of the wrestlers is a bald man with a
very large stomach : he wears a pair of canvas trousers rolled up
at the bottoms, as though he were going paddling. His
opponent wears black tights, and leather kneelets which look as
if diey had come off an old cab-horse. The wrestlers throw each
other about as much as possible, turning somersaults in the
air to amuse the audience. The fat man who plays the part of
loser pretends to get very angry when he is beaten, and
threatens to fight the referee.
One of the boxers is a negro. He invariably wins. The boxers
hit each other with the open glove, maMng a tremendous
A BERLIN DIARY I9I
amount of noise. The other boxer, a tall, well-built young man,
about twenty years younger and obviously much stronger than
the negro, is ^knocked out' with absurd ease. He writhes in
great agony on the floor, nearly manages to struggle to his feet
at the count of ten, then collapses again, groaning. After this
fight, the referee collects ten more pfennigs and calls for a chal-
lenger from the audience. Before any bona fide challenger can
apply, another j^ung man, who has been quite openly chatting
and joking with the wrestlers, jumps hastily into the ring and
strips off his clothes, revealing himself already dressed in
shorts and boxer's boots. The referee announces a purse of five
marks; and, this time, the negro is ^knocked out.'
The audience took the fights dead seriously, shouting en-
couragement to the fighters, and even quarrelling and betting
amongst themselves on the results. Yet nearly all of them had
been in the tent as long as I had, and stayed on after I had left.
The political moral is certainly depressing : these people could
be made to believe in anybody or anything.
Walking this evening along the Kleiststrasse, I saw a little
crowd gathered round a private car. In the car were two girls :
On the pavement stood two young Jews, engaged in a violent
argument with a large blond man who was obviously rather
drunk. The Jews, it seemed, had been driving slowly along
the street, on the look-out for a pick-up, and had offered these
girls a ride. The two girls had accepted and got into the car. At
this moment, however, the blond man intervened. He was a
Nazi, he told us, and as such felt it his mission to defend the
honour of all German women against the obscene anti-Nordic
menace. The two Jews didn't seem in the least intimidated;
they told the Nazi energetically to mind his own business.
Meanwhile, the girls, taking advantage of the row, slipped out
of the car and ran off down the street. The Nazi then tried to
drag one of the Jews with him to find a policeman, and the Jew
whose arm he had seized gave him an uppercut which laid him
sprawling on his back. Before the Nazi could get to his feet,
both young men had jumped into their car and driven away.
The crowd dispersed slowly, arguing. Very few of them sided
192 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
Openly with the Nazi: several supported the Jews; but the
majority confined themselves to shaking their heads dubiously
and murmuring : ' Allerhandl'
When, three hours later, I passed the same spot, the Nazi
was still patrolling up and down, looking hungrily for more
German womanhood to rescue.
We have just got a letter from Frl. Mayr; Frl. Schroeder
called me in to listen to it. Frl.Mayr doesn't like Holland. She
has been obliged to sing in a lot of second-rate cafes in third-
rate towns, and her bedroom is badly heated. The Dutch, she
writes, have no culture; she has only met one truly refined and
superior gentleman, a widower. The widower tells her that she
is a really womanly woman - he has no use for young chits
of girls. He has shown his admiration for her art by presenting
her with a complete new set of vmderclothes.
Frl. Mayr has also had trouble with her colleagues. At one
town, a rival actress, jealous of Frl. Mayr's vocal powers, tried
to stab her in the eye with a hat-pin. I can't help admiring
that actress's courage. When Frl. Mayr had finished with her,
she was so badly injured that she couldn't appear on the stage
again for a week.
Last night, Fritz Wendel proposed a tour of 'the dives.' It
was to be in the nature of a farewell visit, for the Police have
begun to take a great interest in these places. They are fre-
quently raided, and the names of their clients are written down.
There is even talk of a general Berlin clean-up.
I rather upset him by insisting on visiting the Salome, which
I had never seen. Fritz, as a connoisseur of night-life, was most
contemptuous. It wasn't even genuine, he told me. The man-
agement run it entirely for the benefit of provincial sight-
The Salome turned out to be very expensive and even more
depressing than I had imagined. A few stage lesbians and
some young men with plucked eyebrows lounged at the bar,
uttering occasional raucous guffaws or treble hoots - sup-
posed, apparently, to represent the laughter of the danmed.
The whole premises are painted gold and inferno-red - crim-
A BERLIN DIARY 193
son plush inches thick, and vast gilded mirrors. It was pretty
full. The audience consisted chiefly, of respectable middle-aged
tradesmen and their families, exclaiming in good-humoured
amazement: *Do they really?' and *Well, I never!' We went
out half-way through the cabaret performance, after a young
man in a spangled crinoline and jewelled breast-caps had
painfully but successfully executed three splits.
At the entrance we met a party of American youths, very
drunk, wondering whether to go in. Their leader was a small
stocky young man in pince-nez, with an annoyingly prominent
'Say,' he asked Fritz, 'what's on here?'
'Men dressed as women,' Fritz grinned.
The little American simply couldn't believe it. 'Men dressed
as women} As women hey? Do you mean they're queerT
'Eventually we're all queer,' drawled Fritz solemnly, in lugu-
brious tones. The young man looked us over slowly. He had
been running and was still out of breath. The others grouped
themselves awkwardly behind him, ready for anything -
though their callow, open-mouthed faces in the greenish
lamp-light looked a bit scared.
'You queer ^ to, hey?' demanded the little American, turn-
ing suddenly on me.
'Yes,' I said, 'very queer indeed.'
He stood before me a moment, panting, thrusting out his
jaw, uncertain it seemed, whether he ought not to hit me in
the face. Then he turned, uttered some kind of wild college
battle-cry, and, followed by the others, rushed headlong into
'Ever been to that communist dive near the Zoo?' Fritz
asked me, as we were walking away from the Salome. 'Even-
tually we should cast an eye in there ... In six months, maybe,
we'll all be wearing red shirts . . .'
I agreed. I was curious to know what Fritz's idea of a 'com-
munist dive' would be like.
It was, in fact, a small whitewashed cellar. You sat on long
wooden benches at big bare tables; a dozen people together -
194 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
like a school dining-hall. On the walls were scribbled ex-
pressionist drawings involving actual newspaper clippings, real
playing-cards, nailed-on beer-mats, match-boxes, cigarette
cartons, and heads cut out of photographs. The cafe was full of
students, dressed mostly with aggressive political untidiness -
the men in sailor's sweaters and stained baggy trousers, the girls
in ill-fitting jumpers, skirts held visibly together with safety-
pins and carelessly knotted gaudy gipsy scarves. The proprie-
tress was smoking a cigar. The boy who acted as a waiter
lounged about with a cigarette between his lips and slapped
customers on the back when taking their orders.
It was all thoroughly sham and gay and jolly : you couldn't
help feeling at home, immediately. Fritz, as usual, recognized
plenty of friends. He introduced me to three of them - a man
called Martin, an art student named Werner, and Inge, his
girl. Inge was broad and Uvely - she wore a little hat
with feather in it which gave her a kind of farcical resemb-
lance to Henry the Eighth. While Werner and Inge chattered,
Martin sat silent : he was thin and dark and hatchet-faced, with
the sardonically superior smile of the conscious conspirator.
Later in the evening, when Fritz and Werner and Inge had
moved down the table to join another party, Martin began to
talk about the coming civil war. When the war breaks out, Mar-
tin explained, the communists, who have very few machine-
guns, will get command of the roof tops. They will then keep
the PoHce at bay with hand-grenades. It will only be necessary
to hold out for three days, because the Soviet fleet will make an
immediate dash for Swinemiinde and begin to land troops. *I
spend most of my time now making bombs,' Martin added. I
nodded and grinned, very much embarrassed - uncertain
whether he was making fun of me, or deliberately committing
some appalling indiscretion. He certainly wasn't drimk, and he
didn't strike me as merely insane.
Presently, a strikingly handsome boy of sixteen or seven-
teen came into the cafe. His name was Rudi. He was dressed
in a Russian blouse, leather shorts and despatch-rider's boots,
and he strode up to our table with all the heroic mannerisms
of a messenger who returns successful from a desperate mis-
A BERLIN DIARY 1 95
sion. He had, however, no message of any kind to deliver. After
his whirlwind entry, and a succession of curt, martial hand
shakes, he sat down quite quietly beside us and ordered a glass
This evening, I visited the 'communist* cafe again. It is
really a fascinating little world of intrigue and counter-intrigue.
Its Napoleon is the sinister bomb-making Martin; Werner is its
Danton; Rudi its Joan of Arc. Everybody suspects everybody
else. Already Martin has warned me against Werner: he is
'politically unreliable' - last summer he stole the entire funds
of a communist youth organization. And Werner has warned
me against Martin : he is either a Nazi agent, or a police spy, or
in the pay of the French Government. In addition to this, both
Martin and Werner earnestly advised me to have nothing to do
with Rudi - they absolutely refused to say why.
But there was no question of having nothing to do with Rudi.
He planted himself down beside me and began talking at once
- a hurricane of enthusiasm. His favourite word is 'Knorke' :
*0h, ripping ! ' He is a pathfinder. He wanted to know what the
boy scouts were like in England. Had they got the spirit of
adventure? "All German boys are adventurous. Adventure is
ripping. Our Scoutmaster is a ripping man. Last year he went
to Lapland and lived in a hut, all through the summer, alone . . .
Are you a communist?'
*No. Are you?'
Rudi was pained.
*Of course ! We all are, here . . . I'll lend you some books, if
you like . . . You ought to come and see our club-house. It's
ripping ... We sing the Red Flag, and all the forbidden
songs . , . Will you teach me English? I want to learn all lan-
I asked if there were any girls in his pathfinder group. Rudi
was as shocked as if I'd said something really indecent.
'Women are no good,' he told me bitterly. 'They spoil every-
thing. They haven't got the spirit of adventure. Men under-
stand each other much better when they're alone together.
Uncle Peter (that's our Scoutmaster) says women should stay
I9<5 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
at home and mend socks. That's all they're fit for ! '
*Is Uncle Peter a communist, too?'
*0f course ! ' Rudi looked at me suspiciously. *Why do you
*0h, no special reason,' I replied hastily. *I think perhaps I
was mixing him up with somebody else . . .'
This afternoon I travelled out to the reformatory to visit
one of my pupils. Herr Brink, who is a master there. He is a
small, broad-shouldered man, with the thin, dead-looking
fair hair, mild eyes, and bulging, over-heavy forehead of the
German vegetarian intellectual. He wears sandals and an
open-necked shirt. I found him in the gymnasium, giving
physical instruction to a class of mentally deficient children -
for the reformatory houses mental deficients as well as juven-
ile delinquents. With a certain melancholy pride, he pointed
out the various cases : one little boy was suffering from here-
ditary syphilis - he had a fearful squint; another, the child of
elderly drunkards, couldn't stop laughing. They clambered
about the wall-bars like monkeys, laughing and chattering,
seemingly quite happy.
Then we went up to the workshop, where older boys in blue
overalls - all convicted criminals - were making boots. Most of
the boys looked up and grinned when Brink came in, only a few
were sullen. But I couldn't look them in the eyes. I felt horribly
guilty and ashamed : I seemed, at that moment, to have become
the sole representative of their gaolers, of Capitalist Society. I
wondered if any of them had actually been arrested in the
Alexander Casino, and, if so, whether they recognized me.
We had lunch in the matron's room. Herr Brink apologized
for giving me the same food as the boys themselves ate - potato
soup with two sausages, and a dish of apples and stewed prunes.
I protested - as no doubt, I was intended to protest - that it
was very good. And yet the thought of the boys having to eat
it, or any other kind of meat, in that building made each spoon-
ful stick in my throat. Institution food has an indescribable,
perhaps purely imaginary, taste (One of the most vivid and
sickening memories of my own school life, is the smell of ordin-
ary white bread.)
A BERLIN DIARY 197
*You don't have any bars or locked gates here,' I said. *I
thought all reformatories had them . . . Don't your boys often
^Hardly ever,' said Brink, and the admission seemed to make
him positively unhappy; he sank his head wearily in his hands.
'Where shall they run to? Here it is bad. At home it is worse.
The majority of them know that.'
*But isn't there a kind of natural instinct for freedom?'
*Yes, you are right. But the boys soon lose it. The system
helps them to lose it. I think perhaps that, in Germans, this
instinct is never very strong.'
Tou don't have much trouble here, then?'
*0h, yes. Sometimes . . . Three months ago, a terrible thing
happened. One boy stole another boy's overcoat. He asked for
permission to to into the town - that is allowed - and possibly
he meant to sell it. But the owner of the overcoat followed
him, and they had a fight. The boy to whom the overcoat be-
longed took up a big stone and flung it at the other boy; and this
boy, feeling himself hurt, deliberately smeared dirt into the
wound, hoping to make it worse and so escape punishment.
The wound did get worse. In three days the boy died of blood-
poisoning. And when the other boy heard of this he killed him-
self with a kitchen knife . . .' Brink sighed deeply : 'Sometimes I
almost despair,' he added. *It seems as if there were a kind of
badness, a disease, infecting the world to-day.'
*But what can you really do for these boys?' I asked.
*Very little. We teach them a trade. Later, we try to find them
work - which is almost impossible. If they have work in the
neighbourhood, they can still sleep here at nights ... The
Principal believes that their Hves can be changed through the
teachings of the Christian religion. I'm afraid I cannot feel
this. The problem is not so simple. I'm afraid that most of
them if they cannot get work, will take to crime. After all,
people cannot be ordered to starve.'
Isn't there any alternative?'
Brink rose and led me to the window.
Tou see those two buildings? One is the engineering-works,
the other is the prison. For the boys of this distria there
198 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
used to be two alternatives . . . But now the works are bankrupt.
Next week they will close down.'
This morning I went to see Rudi's club-house, which is also
the office of a pathfinders' magazine. The editor and scout-
master. Uncle Peter, is a haggard, youngish man, with a parch-
ment-coloured face and deeply sunken eyes, dressed in
corduroy jacket and shorts. He is evidently Rudi's idol. The
only time Rudi will stop talking is when Uncle Peter has some-
thing to say. They showed me dozens of photographs of boys,
all taken with the camera tilted upwards, from beneath, so that
they look like epic giants, in profile against enormous clouds.
The magazine itself has articles on hunting, tracking, and pre-
paring food - all written in super-enthusiastic style, with a
curious underlying note of hysteria, as though the actions
described were part of a religious or erotic ritual. There were
half-a-dozen other boys in the room with us : all of them in a
state of heroic semi-nudity, wearing the shortest of shorts and
the thinnest of shirts or singlets, although the weather is so
When I had finished looking at the photographs, Rudi took
me into the club meeting-room. Long coloured banners hung
down the walls, embroidered with initials and mysterious totem
devices. At one end of the room was a low table covered with a
crimson embroidered cloth - a kind of altar. On the table were
candles in brass candlesticks.
*We light them on Thursdays,' Rudi explained, *when we
have our camp-fire palaver. Then we sit round in a ring on the
floor, and sing songs and tell stories.'
Above the table with the candlesticks was a sort of icon - the
framed drawing of a young pathfinder of unearthly beauty,
gazing sternly into the far distance, a banner in his hand. The
whole place made me feel profoundly uncomfortable. I excused
myself and got away as soon as I could.
Overhead in a cafe : a young Nazi is sitting with his girl;
they are discussing the future of the Party : The Nazi is drunk.
*0h, I know we shall win, all right,' he exclaims impatiently.
A BERLIN DIARY 199
*but that's not enough!' He thumps the table with his fist:
*Blood must flow ! '
The girl strokes his arm reassuringly. She is trying to get
him to come home. 'But, of course, it's going to flow, darling,'
she coos soothingly, *the Leader's promised that in our pro-
To-day is *Silver Sunday.' The streets are crowded with
shoppers. All along the Tauentzienstrasse, men, women and
boys are hawking postcards, flowers, song-books, hair-oil,
bracelets. Christmas-trees are stacked for sale along the central
path between the tramlines. Uniformed S.A. men rattle their
collecting boxes. In the side-streets, lorry-loads of police are
waiting; for any large crowd, nowadays, is capable of turning
into a political riot. The Salvation Army have a big illuminated
tree on the Wittenbergplatz, with a blue electric star. A group
of students were standing round it, making sarcastic remarks.
Among them I recognized Werner, from the 'Communist' cafe.
'This-time next year,' said Werner, 'that star will have change
its colour!' He laughed violently - he was in an excited,
slightly hysterical mood. Yesterday, he told me, he'd had a
great adventure: 'You see, three other comrades and myself
decided to make a demonstration at the Labour Exchange in
NeukoUn. I had to speak, and the others were to see I wasn't
interrupted. We went round there at about half-past ten, when
the bureau's most crowded. Of course, we'd planned it aU be-
forehand - each of the comrades had to hold one of the doors,
so that none of the clerks in the ofiice could get out. There
they were, cooped up like rabbits ... Of course, we couldn't
prevent their telephoning for the PoUce, we knew that. We
reckoned we'd got six or seven minutes . . . Well, as soon as the
doors were fixed, I jumped on to a table. I just yeUed out what-
ever came into my head - 1 don't know what I said. They liked
it, anyhow ... In half a minute I had them so excited I got quite
scared. I was afraid they'd break into the office and lynch some-
body. There was a fine old shindy, I can tell you ! But just when
things were beginning to look properly lively, a comrade came
up from below to tell us the Police were there already - just
200 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
getting out of their car. So we had to make a dash for it ... I
think they'd have got us, only the crowd was on our side, and
wouldn't let them through until we were out by the other door,
into the street . . .' Werner finished breathlessly. *I tell you,
Christopher,' he added, 'the capitalist system can't possibly
last much longer now. The workers are on the move ! '
Early this evening I was in the Biilowstrasse. There had been
a big Nazi meeting at the Sportpalast, and groups of men and
boys were just coming away from it, in their brown or black
uniforms. Walking along the pavement ahead of me were three
S.A. men. They all carried Nazi banners on their shoulders,
like rifles, rolled tight round the staves - the banner-staves
had sharp metal points, shaped into arrow-heads.
All at once, the three S.A. men came face to face with a youth
of seventeen or eighteen, dressed in civilian clothes, who was
hurrying along in the opposite direction. I heard one of the
Nazis shout : That's him! ' and immediately all three of them
flung themselves upon the young man. He uttered a scream,
and tried to dodge, but they were too quick for him. In a
moment they had jostled him into the shadow of a house en-
trance, and were standing over him, kicking him and stabbing
at him with the sharp metal points of their banners. All this
happened with such incredible speed that I could hardly believe
my eyes - already, the three S.A. men had left their victim, and
were barging their way through the crowd; they made for the
stairs which led up to the station of the Overhead Railway.
Another passer-by and myself were the first to reach the
doorway where the young man was lying. He lay huddled
crookedly in the corner, like an abandoned sack. As they picked
him up, I got a sickening glimpse of his face - his left eye was
poked half out, and blood poured from the wound. He wasn't
dead. Somebody volunteered to take him to the hospital in a
By this time, dozens of people were looking on. They seemed
surprised, but not particularly shocked - this sort of thing hap-
pened too often, nowadays. ^Allerhand . . .' they murmured.
Twenty yards away, at the Potsdamerstrasse corner, stood a
group of heavily armed policemen. With their chests out, and
A BERLIN DIARY 201
their hands on their revolver belts, they magnificently disre-
garded the whole affair.
Werner has become a hero. His photograph was in the
Rote Fahne a few days ago, captioned : ^Another victim of the
Police blood-bath.' Yesterday, which was New Year's day, I
went to visit him in hospital.
Just after Christmas, it seems, there was a street-fight near
the Stettiner Bahnhof. Werner was on the edge of the crowd,
not knowing what the fight was about. On the off-chance that
it might be something political, he began yelling : *Red Front ! '
A policeman tried to arrest him. Werner kicked the policeman
in the stomach. The policeman drew his revolver and shot
Werner three times through the leg. When he had finished
shooting, he called another policeman, and together they car-
ried Werner into a taxi. On the way to the police-station, the
policemen hit him on the head with their truncheons, until he
fainted. When he has sufficiently recovered, he will, most
probably, be prosecuted.
He told me all this with the greatest satisfaction, sitting up in
bed surrounded by his admiring friends, including Rudi and
Inge, in her Henry the Eighth hat. Around him, on the
blanket, lay his presscuttings. Somebody had carefully under-
lined each mention of Werner's name with a red pencil.
Today, January 22nd, the Nazis held a demonstration on
the Biilowplatz, in front of the Karl Liebknecht House. For
the last week the communists have been trying to get the de-
monstration forbidden: they say it is simply intended as a
provocation - as, of course, it was. I went along to watch it with
Frank, the newspaper correspondent.
As Frank himself said afterwards, this wasn't really a Nazi
demonstration at all, but a Police demonstration - there were
at least two policemen to every Nazi present. Perhaps General
Schleicher only allowed the march to take place in order
to show who are the real masters of Berlin. Everybody says he's
going to proclaim a military dictatorship.
But the real masters of Berlin are not the Police, or the
Army, and certainly not the Nazis. The masters of Berlin are
202 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
the workers - despite all the propaganda I've heard and read,
all the demonstrations I've attended, I only realized this, for the
first time to-day. Comparatively few of the hundreds of people
in the streets round the Bulowplatz can have been organized
communists, yet you had the feeling that every single one of
them was united against this march. Somebody began to sing
the *International,' and, in a moment, everyone had joined
in - even the women with their babies, watching from top-
storey windows. The Nazis slunk past, marching as fast as
they knew how, between their double rows of protectors. Most
of tliem kept their eyes on the ground, or glared glassily ahead :
a few attempted sickly, furtive grins. When the procession
had passed, an elderly fat little S.A. man, who had somehow
got left behind, came panting along at the double, desperately
scared at finding himself alone, and trying vainly to catch up
with the rest. The whole crowd roared with laughter.
During the demonstration nobody was allowed on the
Bulowplatz itself. So the crowd surged uneasily about, and
things began to look nasty. The police, brandishing their rifles,
ordered us back; some of the less experienced ones, getting
rattled, made as if to shoot. Then an armoured car appeared,
and started to turn its machine-gun slowly in our direction.
There was a stampede into house doorways and caf^s;
but no sooner had the car moved on, than everybody rushed out
into the street again, shouting and singing. It was too much like
a naughty schoolboy's game to be seriously alarming. Frank
enjoyed himself enormously, grinning from ear to ear, and
hopping about, in his flapping overcoat and huge owlish spec-
tacles, like a mocking, ungainly bird.
Only a week since I wrote the above. Schleicher has re-
signed. The monocles did their stuff. Hitler has formed a cabi-
net with Hugenberg. Nobody thinks it can last till the spring.
The newspapers are becoming more and more like copies of a
school magazine. There is nothing in them but new rules, new
punishments, and lists of people who have been *kept in.' This
morning. Goring has invented three fresh varieties of high
A BERLIN DIARY 203
Every evening, I sit in the big half-empty artists' cafe by
the Memorial Church, where the Jews and left-wing intel-
lectuals bend their heads together over the marble tables,
speaking in low, scared voices. Many of them know that they
will certainly be arrested - if not to-day, then to-morrow or
next week. So they are polite and mild with each other, and
raise their hats and enquire after their colleagues' fandlies.
Notorious literary tiffs of several years' standing are for-
Almost every evening, the S.A. men come into the cafe.
Sometimes they are only collecting money; everybody is com-
pelled to give something. Sometimes they have come to make
an arrest. One evening a Jewish writer, who was present, ran
into the telephone-box to ring up the Police. The Nazis dragged
him out, and he was taken away. Nobody moved a finger. You
could have heard a pin drop, till they were gone.
The foreign newspaper correspondents dine every night at
the same little Italian restaurant, at a big round table, in the
corner. Everybody else in the restaurant is watching them and
trying to overhear what they are saying. If you have a piece
of news to bring them - the details of an arrest, or the address
of a victim whose relatives might be interviewed - then one
of the journalists leaves the table and walks up and down with
you outside, in the street.
A young communist I know was arrested by the S.A. men,
taken to a Nazi barracks, and badly knocked about. After
three or four days, he was released and went home. Next morn-
ing there was a knock at the door. The communist hobbled
over to open it, his arm in a sling - and there stood a Nazi
with a coUecting-box. At the sight of him the communist com-
pletely lost his temper. *Isn't it enough,' he yelled, *that you
beat me up? And you dare to come and ask me for money?'
But the Nazi only grinned. *Now, now, comrade ! No politi-
cal squabbling! Remember, we're living in the Third Reich!
We're all brothers ! You must try and drive that silly political
hatred from your heart!'
This evening I went into the Russian tea-shop in the Klei-
strasse, and the was D. For a moment I really thought I must
204 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
be dreaming. He greeted me quite as usual, beaming all over
*Good God!' I whispered. *What on earth are you doing
D beamed. *You thought I might have gone abroad?'
WeU, naturally . . .'
*But the situation nowadays is so interesting . . .'
I laughed. That's one way of looking at it, certainly . . . But
isn't it awfully dangerous for you?'
D merely smiled. Then he turned to the girl he was sitting
with and said, 'This is Mr Isherwood. . . You can speak quite
openly to him. He hates the Nazis as much as we do. Oh, yes !
Mr Isherwood is a confirmed anti-fascist ! '
He laughed very heartily and slapped me on the back. Several
people who were sitting near us overheard him. Their reactions
were curious. Either they simply couldn't believe their ears,
or they were so scared that they pretended to hear nothing,
and went on sipping their tea in a state of deaf horror. I have
seldom felt so uncomfortable in my whole life.
(D's technique appears to have had its points, all the same.
He was never arrested. Two months later, he successfully
crossed the frontier into Holland.)
This morning, as I was walking down the Biilowstrasse, the
Nazis were raiding the house of a small liberal pacifist pub-
lisher. They had brought a lorry and were piling it with the
publisher's books. The driver of the lorry mockingly read out
the titles of the books to the crowd :
^Nie Wieder KriegP he shouted, holding up one of them by
the corner of the cover, disgustedly, as though it were a nasty
kind of reptile. Everybody roared with laughter.
* "No More War ! " ' echoed a fat, well-dressed woman, with
a scornful, savage laugh. *What an idea ! '
At present, one of my regular pupils is Herr N, a police chief
under the Weimar regime. He comes to me every day. He wants
to brush up his EngHsh, for he is leaving very soon to take up
a job in the United States. The curious thing about these
A BERLIN DIARY 205
lessons is that they are all given while we are driving about
the streets in Herr N's enormous closed car. Herr N himself
never comes into our house : he sends up his chauffeur to fetch
me, and the car moves off at once. Sometimes we stop for a few
minutes at the edge of the Tiergarten, and stroll up and down
the paths - the chauffeur always following us at a respectful
Herr N talks to me chiefly about his family. He is worried
about his son, who is very delicate, and whom he is obliged
to leave behind, to undergo an operation. His wife is delicate,
too. He hopes the journey won't tire her. He describes her
symptoms, and the kind of medicine she is taking. He tells me
stories about his son as a little boy. In a tactful, impersonal way
we have become quite intimate. Herr N is always charmingly
polite, and Ustens gravely and carefully to my explanations of
grammatical points. Behind everything he says I am aware
of an immense sadness.
We never discuss politics; but I know that Herr N must be
an enemy of the Nazis, and, perhaps, even in hourly danger
of arrest. One morning, when we were driving along the Unter
den Linden, we passed a group of self-important S.A. men,
chatting to each other and blocking the whole pavement.
Passers-by were obliged to walk in the gutter. Herr N smiled
faintly and sadly : *One sees some queer sights in the streets
nowadays.' That was his only comment.
Sometimes he will bend forward to the window and regard a
building or a square with a mournful fixity, as if to impress its
image upon his memory and to bid it good-bye.
To-morrow I am going to England. In a few weeks I shall
return, but only to pick up my things, before leaving BerHn
Poor Frl. Schroeder is inconsolable : 1 shall never find an-
other gentleman like you, Herr Issyvoo - always so punctual
with the rent . . . I'm sure I don't know what makes you want to
leave Berlin, all of a sudden, like this . . .'
It's no use trying to explain to her, or talking politics.
Already she is adapting herself, as she will adapt herself to
206 GOODBYE TO BERLIN
every new regime. This morning I even heard her talking rever-
ently about *Der Fiihrer' to the porter's wife. If anybody were
to remind her that, at the elections last November, she voted
communist, she would probably deny it hotly, and in perfect
good faith. She is merely acclimatizing herself, in accordance
with a natural law, like an animal which changes its coat for the
vsdnter. Thousands of people like Frl. Schroeder are acclimatiz-
ing themselves. After all, whatever government is in power,
they are doomed to live in this town.
Today the sun is brilliantly shining; it is quite mild and
warm. I go out for my last morning walk, without an overcoat
or hat. The sun shines, and Hitler is master of this city. The
sun shines, and dozens of my friends - my pupils at the
Workers' School, the men and women I met at the I.A.H. - are
in prison, possibly dead. But it isn't of them that I am thinking
- the clear-headed ones, the purposeful, the heroic; they recog-
nized and accepted the risks. I am thinking of poor Rudi, in
his absurd Russian blouse. Rudi's make-believe, story-book
game has become earnest; the Nazis will play it with him. The
Nazis won't laugh at him; they'll take him on trust for what
he pretended to be. Perhaps at this very moment Rudi is being
tortured to death.
I catch sight of my face in the mirror of a shop, and am
horrified to see that I am smiling. You can't help smiling, in
such beautiful weather. The trams are going up and down the
Kleiststrasse, just as usual. They, and the people on the pave-
ment, and the tea-cosy dome of the Nollendorfplatz station
have an air of curious familiarity, of striking resemblance to
something one remembers as normal and pleasant in the past
- like a very good photograph.
No. Even now I can't altogether believe that any of this has
really happened . . .
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Here, meine Damen und Herren, is Christopher
Isherwood's brilliant farewell to a city which was
not only buildings, streets and people, but was
also a state of mind which will never come again.
In linked short stories, he says goodbye to Sally
Bowles, toFraulein Schroeder, to pranksters,
perverts, political manipulators; to the very, very
guilty and to the dwindling band of innocents. It
is goodbye to a Berlin wild, wicked, breathtaking,
decadent beyond belief and already - in the years
between the wars - welcoming death in through
the door, though more with a wink than a
'Eminently delightful . . . Mr Isherwood is
revealed as a genuine humorist. The book as a
whole throws a vivid light on the historical
background of Hitler's rise to power'
'A dazzling sense of humour. No one could fail to
Front cover illustration by Ann Meisal
u.k.sopCaT '^^"^TL «A fiction/literature
AUSTRALl! I J / ,/ 3^$2.45 586 04795 6